WASHINGTON — The Grocery Manufacturers Association here has praised the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's new “Food Protection Plan: An Integrated Strategy for Protecting the Nation's Food Supply.” Released last week, the report presents a set of integrated strategies that the FDA says will help it be more effective at preventing foodborne contamination, intervening at critical points in the food supply chain and responding more rapidly to minimize illnesses caused by both deliberate and unintentional contamination.
“On behalf of GMA and its member companies, I would like to thank Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt and Food and Drug Commissioner von Eschenbach for developing ‘Food Protection Plan: An Integrated Strategy for Protecting the Nation's Food Supply,’” Cal Dooley, president and chief executive officer of GMA, announced in a statement. “We are pleased to see that prevention is the cornerstone of the FDA's plan for strengthening the safety and security of the nation's food supply.”
The report acknowledges that its recommendations can only be fulfilled by granting the FDA additional authorities, including mandatory recall authority, and significantly boosting the agency's federal funding.
In addition, the report says the FDA will need, among other powers, authority to issue additional preventive controls for “high-risk” foods; the authority to require food facilities to renew their FDA registration every two years and to require reinspection fees from facilities that fail to meet current Good Manufacturing Practices; and the authority to require electronic import certificates for shipments of designated high-risk products.
Dooley noted that, in general, the recommendations were similar to a plan outlined earlier this year by GMA.
“While we are still reviewing the details of the FDA's food safety proposal, it is clear that many of the elements of the agency's approach are similar to the plan unveiled by GMA in September,” he said.
“That proposal, ‘Commitment to Consumers: The Four Pillars of Imported Food Safety,’ calls for a doubling of the FDA budget over the next five years as well as for strengthening the food safety private-public partnership as the best way to modernize our nation's food safety system and bolster consumer confidence in our food supply.”