The House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee last week held a hearing on food safety oversight. Testifying were Daniel Levinson, inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services; Craig Henry, senior vice president for science and regulatory affairs with Grocery Manufacturers Association; and Tom Stenzel, president of the United Fresh Produce Association. Subcommittee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), said the nation’s food-safety system must be able to trace contamination from “store to source” or “farm to fork.”

 Levinson told the panel that his office was successful in tracing back through each stage of production only five of 40 food products. In a report on food safety, the IG recommended that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:

  • Be given statutory authority to strengthen the existing records requirements imposed on food companies. Food processors, packers and manufacturers should be required to create lot-specific information and maintain it. FDA also should extend the requirement to include facilities that are currently not required to maintain such information. 
  • Be given statutory authority to conduct activities to ensure that facilities are complying with its records requirements.
  • Be given additional statutory authority to improve traceability of products.
  • Work with the food industry to develop additional guidance to strengthen traceability.
  • Address issues related to mixing raw food products from a large number of farms.
  • Conduct education and outreach activities to inform the food industry about its records requirements.

The National Pork Produces Council is monitoring the food-safety issue, and supports a strong, well-funded FDA. It supports policies and programs that help ensure the safety of the U.S. food supply. It also supports improvements to FDA’s food-safety operations, particularly with regard to imports, and a targeted approach to food safety plans and inspections based on a scientific assessment of risk.

Source: NPPC