Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Food Safety Working Group: Definitely In The 21st Century. Excellent Policy Points Announced For Surveillance, Prevention, Response, Recovery...

The key members of the Food Safety Working Group didn't formally announce Michael Taylor as the new, special Deputy Commissioner of Food during their press conference today, but they did announce a new, excellent public-health- based approach to food safety.
Food Pol expert Marion Nestle of Food Politics, however, is confirming that Michael Taylor has gotten the job. What was announced today: A new, more aggressive way of monitoring food safety, which has three core principles: Prevention, improving enforcement, and improving response to/recovery from food borne disease outbreaks, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

During today's announcement, Secretary Sebelius thanked Rep. John Dingell and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, longstanding champions of food safety, before she introduced her FSWG partners, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack and Vice President Joe Biden (in photo above).

In the audience for today's announcement were family members of foodborne illness victims, and VP Biden said changes in food safety laws were "long overdue," and had been unchanged since 1906..."since Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle." He noted that part of his work with the Middle Class Task Force was ensuring food safety, and made a long statement about imported foods, processed foods, and how we're all put at risk by these.

"In the past, we've focused on food safety problems when they occur, now we're putting our focus on prevention," said VP Biden. "The tragedy of someone getting sick from food is made worse by someone else getting ill after we know what's making people ill."

"The President has made food safety an important national priority," VP Biden said.

He closed by thanking Bryan Silbermann, president of the Produce Marketing Association, someone who has been critical in promoting food safety for the produce industry.

Jointly, VP Biden and Secs. Sebelius and Vilsack announced the following imperatives for the new food safety approach:

(1) Prioritizing prevention
(2) Strengthening surveillance and enforcement
(3) Improving response and recovery from outbreaks

In an effort at better management, the FSWG is seeking to coordinate the activities of agencies that oversee food issues, and has created two new positions:

1. Deputy Commissioner for Foods, to oversee and coordinate FDA's efforts on food, including food safety. This position, reporting to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, will be empowered to restructure and revitalize FDA’s activities and work with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, and other agencies, in developing a new food safety system. --This is the new Michael Taylor position...

To continue reading about the Food Safety Working Group's new initiatives, click here....