WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration here issued a report yesterday about the progress it’s made under its year-old Food Protection Plan. The risk-based model addresses food safety and defense by focusing on prevention, intervention and response throughout the life cycles of domestic and imported foods.
Highlights of the agency’s preventive efforts include establishing offices in China, India, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. The agency has also approved the use of irradiation of iceberg lettuce and spinach to control pathogens, and has developed methods to detect melamine and cyanuric acid in feed and feed ingredients. The FDA’s intervention endeavors have included inspections of more than 5,000 high-risk domestic food establishments during the fiscal year 2008, including a targeted, risk-based inspection of a canning facility that identified cans with Clostridium botulinum spores, which led to a recall.
The agency is working to expedite its food safety and defense response by authoring tools used to track emergency response resources. It has also hired two emergency/complaint-response coordinators to improve its responses to emergencies involving animal feed, including dog food, and has worked with local officials to rid shelves of affected products. After reports from China of melamine-contaminated infant formula, the FDA worked with state officials to inspect 2,100 domestic Asian markets and remove from them infant formula from China. They also sampled milk-derived products to check for melamine contamination.
“Science and the 21st century technologies help drive the FDA’s efforts to transform our food safety efforts from the Food Protection Plan into a reality,” said Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach, in a statement. “Every day, the FDA is working with foreign countries, state and local governments, regulated industry and consumer groups to ensure the safety of the food supply. We also continue to work with members of Congress to achieve new authorities requested in the Food Protection Plan.”
To strengthen its ability to ensure the safety of food, the FDA is seeking the authority to refuse admission of imported food if FDA inspection is delayed, limited or denied; the power to issue additional preventive controls for certain high-risk foods; and the ability to gain enhanced access to food records during emergencies.
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