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FDA and FSIS Collaborate to Improve Tracing of Unsafe Food Products

6 November 2009 4,046 views No Comment

The Goal is to Prevent or Mitigate Foodborne Illness

SILVER SPRING, Md., Nov. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A joint public meeting
focused on improving the system for tracing of food products and ingredients
that are causing illness outbreaks or presenting other risks to the health of
consumers was announced today by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Food Safety and
Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20090824/FDALOGO)

Recognizing the need to increase the speed and accuracy of traceback
investigations and traceforward operations, both agencies are building on
existing efforts by seeking public input that would help identify elements of
effective food product tracing systems, identify current gaps in food product
tracing, and suggest specific mechanisms for improvements.

The meeting is also intended to improve the ability of FDA and FSIS to use the
information in such systems to respond to outbreaks more quickly by rapidly
identifying the source of contamination during outbreaks of foodborne illness,
and improving the ability of all persons in the supply chain to more quickly
identify food that is (or potentially is) contaminated and remove it from the
market during traceforward operations.

“This public meeting provides an opportunity for FDA to collaborate more
closely with FSIS as well as with members of the food industry, many of whom
have been making important innovations in food safety practices and
technology, and all of whom bear primary responsibility for producing and
marketing safe food,” said Michael R. Taylor, senior advisor to FDA’s
Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, M.D.

“The Food Safety and Inspection Service is eager to work with FDA, public
health officials, consumer advocates, and the food industry to improve our
ability to trace products that may cause illness outbreaks,” said Jerold R.
Mande, USDA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety. “The public can provide
valuable input to strengthen our prevention, surveillance and response and
recovery efforts, as outlined by the Administration’s Food Safety Working
Group (http://www.foodsafetyworkinggroup.gov/).” In March 2009, President
Obama announced the formation of the Food Safety Working Group, and in July,
President Obama released Key Findings, which highlight steps that FSIS, FDA,
and other Federal Agencies are taking to improve food safety.

Food can become contaminated at many different steps in the supply chain.
Experience in conducting foodborne disease outbreak investigations suggests
that improved product tracing abilities could help identify products
associated with disease more quickly, get risky products off the market
faster, and reduce the number of sicknesses associated with foodborne illness
outbreaks.

The FDA and FSIS share authority for helping to ensure the safety of the
nation’s food supply. Each agency investigates foodborne illness outbreaks and
other foodborne risks associated with the products they regulate. These
investigations, conducted in close cooperation with the U.S. Centers of
Disease Control and Prevention and state and local health and agriculture
departments, often involve tracing backward or forward in the supply chain the
distribution of food products and ingredients associated with risk to consumer
health.  

A traceback investigation is an investigation to determine and document the
distribution and production chain, and the source(s), of contaminated (and
potentially contaminated) food, often in the context of an outbreak of
foodborne illness. A traceforward operation is an operation to determine the
distribution of contaminated (and potentially contaminated) food.

The meeting will be held Dec. 9 and 10 in Washington at the U.S. Department of
Agriculture’s South Building in the Jefferson Auditorium, 1400 Independence
Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C., 20250.  

Those interested in attending the public meeting can pre-register online at:
http://www.fsis.usda.gov/News_&_Events/Meetings_&_Events/index.asp. Online
pre-registration is preferred, but pre-registration can also be done by faxing
registration information (including name, title, firm name, address, telephone
number, e-mail address and fax number) to 1-877-366-3322 by Dec. 2.
Pre-registration is strongly encouraged for all persons who wish to attend the
meeting, regardless of whether they also wish to request an opportunity to
make oral comments at the meeting on issues and questions described in the
Federal Register notice.

For more information on food safety visit: www.foodsafety.gov.

Media Inquiries: Michael Herndon, 301-796-4673, michael.herndon@fda.hhs.gov
Neil Gaffney, 202-720-9113, neil.gaffney@fsis.usda.gov
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA
SOURCE  U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Michael Herndon, 301-796-4673, michael.herndon@fda.hhs.gov, or Neil Gaffney,
202-720-9113, neil.gaffney@fsis.usda.gov, both of the FDA
© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved

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