Yesterday, the White House released its recommendations on how to ensure the safety of imported food and product safety. The ideas came from a panel organized earlier this past July by President Bush in response to various safety issues that surfaced from imported goods, many from China. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt, led the panel, which outlined 14 recommendations and 50 action steps.

Some are more vague than others. Here are some of the suggestions:

  • Create a stronger certification process, giving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the authority to require producers of certain high-risk foods in a particular country to certify that products meet FDA standards
  • Encourage good importer practices by providing incentives to importers to maintain the highest safety practices for products that carry greater risks
  • Increase transparency by making the names of certified producers and importers public
  • Exchange product and compliance data on each import transaction to better inform decisions made to clear or reject import shipments
  • Increase the U.S. presence overseas and increase training for foreign inspection agencies
  • Ask Congress to give import safety and inspection agencies the ability to strengthen their standards
  • Strengthen penalties for unsafe products

In conjunction with the plan, FDA has developed its own three-part Food Protection Plan. It emphasizes using science and a risk-based approach to prevent, intervene and respond with the goal of ensuring the safety of domestic and imported foods. It will support the FDA's work with such agencies as the Centers for Disease Control and USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service.

More information on these recommendations is available at www.importsafety.gov.

Source: Meatingplace.com, the White House