FDA's Taylor: carrying coal to Newcastle and preaching to the choir - The Packer

FDA's Taylor: carrying coal to Newcastle and preaching to the choir

02/17/2011 05:33:06 PM
Tom Karst

TK: Especially good business for third party inspectors and auditors, I might add. Taylor later talks about the role of third-party inspectors...

"The key, however, is that the new law explicitly places primary responsibility for food safety – for prevention – on food producers and processors.

Think of it as supply chain management written into law."

TK: Later, Taylor continues...

"The new importer accountability provisions require importers to implement a foreign supplier verification program.

They will need to provide adequate assurance that imported foods have been produced under appropriate risk-based preventive controls that provide the same level of public health protection as those required of our domestic food industry.

This clarification and strengthening of the importer’s responsibility for food safety is the centerpiece of the new law’s import safety reform, but it is not the only thing.

Leveraging resources and preventing problems are also the guiding principles for an element of the new law that is no doubt of great interest to many of you here today. Namely, accredited third-party certification – which we see playing a crucial role in providing the assurances we all seek about the safety of globally-traded food.

Under the new law, we are charged with establishing a system for accrediting third-party auditors of foreign food facilities – auditors who can certify a firm’s or a facility’s compliance with U.S. standards with rigor, objectivity and transparency…and on whom FDA can rely as part of the food safety assurance system.

That is a tall order, but we intend to meet it.

And there will be plenty of issues, since the new law envisions multiple roles for third-party certification.

The first is to help importers meet their new responsibility to verify that the food they import into the United States is in compliance with U.S. standards. Some importing firms have integrated robust food safety verification procedures into their supply chain management systems and will likely be able to fulfill their verification responsibility on their own.

Others have not and may want to rely in whole or in part on the certifications of third-party auditors.

In either case, the critical issue is ensuring importers have the means to verify that their suppliers have systems in place to produce safe food.

Second, importers participating in the new law’s voluntary program for expediting the importation of food into the U.S. must accompany their food shipments with safety certifications. We expect that many companies will seek to participate in this program, and we must have an accredited third-party certification program in place to meet that demand.

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