Friday, November 30, 2007

American Society for Quality (ASQ) Directives on Food Safety

The American Society for Quality has submitted a statement on food safety to the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, a subcommittee that is focusing on food quality and safety in the United States. They should focus on the following areas when assessing the FDA’s ability to ensure safe food

System and process focus Current food-safety challenges demand less focus on end-item testing and more emphasis on the process and the supply chain.

SCM Although much of the existing inspection effort has been concentrated at points close to the ends of the food chain, specifically at import and processors, a focus on innovative methods of evaluating the hand-offs further down the chain might yield better food-safety results.

Joint agency activities. As the subcommittee hearings have pointed out, federal food-safety oversight is a fragmented undertaking, with multiple agencies each playing a role. Joint agency activities in complementary fields would permit more thorough oversight with existing resources.

Government/industry partnerships. There will never be enough inspectors, no matter what the design ends up being. What is also necessary is for the agencies to focus on the weak areas.

International data system for traceability. Food-safety professionals are emphasizing the need to share data internationally.

Carbon monoxide process. Although seafood has always been labeled to indicate CO treatment, this is not the case in meat and poultry. ASQ supports the concept of labeling to identify all foods that have been treated with CO.

Implement recommendations of IOM . The Institute of Medicine’s 2003 report, “Scientific Criteria to Ensure Safe Food,” made numerous recommendations that would strengthen the food chain and reduce the incidence of food-borne illness. Congress and the FDA should take steps to implement these recommendations.

Congressional and HHS support and funding of FDA proposals . In recent years, certain FDA programs and legislative proposals that demonstrated innovative approaches to the agency’s food-safety challenges have died due to lack of funding or congressional or administration inaction. These prevention-oriented initiatives should be supported and funded by Congress and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Funding should promote better use of existing fee-for-service programs that strengthen buyer-supplier relationships and ease taxpayer burden

Adapted from article in October issue

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