Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), shared with an eager Science Forum crowd his thoughts about the distinct but complementary roles FDA and the food industry play in meeting consumer expectations for a safe and nutritious food supply.
Taylor discussed issues at the forefront of the industry agenda, including front-of-pack (FOP) labeling, food safety, government and industry food safety roles and the role of science in the new prevention paradigm.
“Our goal is FOP nutrition labeling that provides clear, consistent information in a format that enables consumers to readily notice, understand and use the information to compare products and choose healthier diets for themselves and their families,” Taylor said. This goal aligns with GMA’s Facts Up Front FOP labeling program.
Regarding food safety, Taylor explained that we need a food safety system that is prevention-oriented, science- and risk-based, addresses food safety comprehensively, and holds imports to the same standards we set for domestic facilities. He believes the starting point must be the role of the industry – those who produce, process and market food.
“That’s the food industry’s job; the food industry has the primary responsibility for the safety of the food it produces and sells,” Taylor said.
For FDA’s part, Taylor said that they need to collect data, conduct research and perform the analysis required for identifying and understanding the most significant problems to correctly allocate resources to reduce foodborne illness.
Additionally, he explained that they need to set standards that reflect science-based understanding of the risks, develop analytical methods and other food safety tools and evaluate the effectiveness of specific food safety procedures and interventions.
Taylor added, “There are no silver bullets or magic wands for food safety. It’s a long-term system building and system change process that will require all of us working together. “