In this panel session, food safety experts from the U.S. and trading partner countries addressed standardizing food safety practices on a global basis, and the challenges it might present.
Anna Shanklin,International Policy Manager of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), discussed how the FDA welcomes the new paradigm embodied in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the challenge in implementing it.
“We welcome this new law because it will benefit public health,” explained Shanklin. “There is lots of work to be done. The implementation of FSMA is a call to order and the changes will not happen overnight.”
The benefits of FSMA however, are enormous with respect to the global food supply. It will reduce the financial issues associated with foodborne illness and calls for ground-breaking shifts in ensuring the safety of importing foods – which is why it is essential to be in alignment with our trading partner countries.
“Food safety and international trade we believe can and should be mutually supported. [Consumers should] expect and demand safe food no matter its source,” explained Shanklin.
Under FSMA, the FDA can now refuse entry into the U.S. from foreign food facilities, and will call for importer accountability.
The panelists agreed that in order to successfully import products, their food safety systems have to be in alignment, which relies on a collaborative relationship and mutual confidence among trading partners.
Carol Barnao, Deputy Director, General Standards of New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) explained that because of differing sizes and resources, it is important to work together to ensure international trade standards are risk and science-based, and they need to be flexible and have a wide application.
Though challenges such as limited resources, varying requirements and processes, and inspection procedures remain, the panelists believe there is a collective commitment among partners to work towards ensuring a safer global food supply for consumers worldwide.