WASHINGTON, D.C. - As part of its ongoing effort to improve the safety and security of the nation’s food supply, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) today gathered over 200 of the industry’s top scientists and quality assurance experts to assess its current food safety practices, share successful practices and develop a comprehensive plan for preventing food-related health outbreaks.
“While strong government oversight is important, the primary responsibility for product safety rests squarely on the shoulders of those companies that make consumer packaged goods,” said Pamela Bailey, GMA president and CEO. “As part of our long-standing focus on product safety, GMA has convened top experts from the food and beverage industry, academia and government to discuss and assess recent events and to make recommendations for improving our nation’s food safety net.”
During her opening remarks at the GMA Science Forum in Arlington, Virginia, Ms. Bailey briefed attendees on the association’s legislative food safety proposal that includes the following provisions:
- Every food importer should have to document the food safety measures employed by their suppliers.
- FDA should require every food manufacturer to have a food safety plan in place that identifies and mitigates the risk of contamination.
- Congress should give FDA the power to establish federal safety standards for certain fruits and vegetables.
- Provide FDA with mandatory recall authority when companies fail to recall products on a voluntary basis.
- Increase FDA funding to provide the agency with the funds it needs to hire more food safety experts and improve its laboratory and information technology capabilities.
In advance of the Science Forum, GMA conducted a survey of attendees to quantify industry expert attitudes on food safety. According to the survey results of the respondents:
- Virtually 100 percent of industry scientists who responded agree that food and beverage manufacturers are responsible for producing safe products and that the industry must be committed to modernizing, strengthening and improving the nation’s food safety system.
- 90 percent agree that FDA must be given increased funding and new authorities to prevent contamination of the food supply.
- 90 percent agree that, in addition to the food safety practices, testing and procedures utilized by food manufacturers, the modernization of our food safety laws and standards is critical to improving America’s food safety net.
- 86 percent agree that FDA should require every food manufacturer to adopt and regularly update a food safety plan.
- 88 percent agree that food importers should be required by the FDA to document the steps they are taking to police their foreign suppliers.
- 98 percent agree that the FDA should be allowed to set federal standards for fresh fruits and vegetables.
- 80 percent agree that the FDA should be given mandatory recall authority when a company does not comply with a voluntary recall request.
“These results not only show that the industry experts who are on the front lines of food safety hold themselves accountable for producing safe products, but that they also see strong government oversight as a critical component of food safety.
“Food and beverage companies are stepping up their own food safety efforts and GMA is working with Congress and the Obama Administration to enact food safety modernization legislation as soon as possible so that we can prevent problems before they occur and bolster consumer confidence in the safety and security of the food supply,” concluded Ms. Bailey.