As the result of political and economic pressures, FDA will likely not have the resources it needs to carry out its responsibilities under the FSMA. What this means is that more responsibility will be placed on the food industry to self-govern. The various industry initiatives will need to expand to make up the difference.
Some of the things industry can do in cooperation with FDA include:
- Expand education
- Create transparency of food safety systems and risk assessments to the consumer level
- Continue the research, development and application of food safety technology
- Expand testing of products
- Foster a Watchdog/Sentinel role
- Outreach and assistance to the mid sized and small operations
- Expand and apply traceability systems
Former ranking Republican Jack Kingston has called the U.S. food supply “99.99 percent” safe. He goes on to say “We challenge anyone to find a function of government that has a success rate better than 99.99% which the food supply, based on the Obama Administration’s own estimates, currently maintains,” said Kingston spokesman Chris Crawford.
In contrast, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last month that about one in six Americans gets sick, and 3,000 die, from foodborne diseases each year.
if .01 % of the food supply is unsafe, as Mr. Crawford explains, this would mean about 1 million meals a day eaten in the US are unsafe.
The impact to public health aside, the food industry suffers anytime there is a food recall or an outbreak, and there are political and economic outcomes, as we see today in Europe.
Regardless, industry must step forward in an even greater way than currently. I believe we are up to the challenge, but we need coordination and strengthening of the scientific basis for risk assessments and a better way to measure risk-reductions.
If FDA cannot fully apply its powers, it makes sense for industry and FDA to work together in new ways. Lets spend the money that is available in ways that will have a beneficial effect. Creating more bureaucracy is not the answer. We need a leader that both industry and FDA can trust, that can forge the type of cooperative spirit needed. That person has not emerged, yet.