Food industry 'supports sensible fees' to boost safety: GMA

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By Stephen Daniells, 25-Mar-2009

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) has voiced its support of President Obama’s efforts to form a food safety working group, but it inspection fees are a work in progress.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the GMA is leading the fight against Democrat proposals to charge annual inspections fees.

The Journal states that the targets of the lobbying will be members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and particularly the committee’s chair, Henry Waxman, a democrat from California. Meetings between Waxman’s staff and lobbyists are reported to have occurred in recent weeks.

However, a spokesperson for the GMA told the association “would support sensible user fees that help to improve food safety while also providing our industry with some benefits.

“FDA’s food safety mission should be funded primarily by Congress through appropriated funds,” said the spokesperson.

The spokesperson added that the industry is willing to pay its ‘fair’ share, however, and “is working with Capitol Hill to come up with the appropriate funding mechanisms”.

GMA support for Obama

The trade association is in favor of many of the President’s initiatives, however. GMA sent a letter recently to the White House to voice support for the President’s proposal to create a food safety working group to coordinate federal food safety efforts.

“Americans enjoy one of the safest food supplies in the world, but food and beverage companies recognize that steps must be taken to make our food supply even safer.

Ensuring the safety of our products […] is the single most important goal of the food and beverage industry. Product safety is the foundation of consumer trust, and our industry devotes enormous resources to ensure that our products are safe.

“Our industry strongly supports efforts to continually improve the safety of America’s food supplies and we urge the Administration to continue to make the prevention of contamination the foundation of our nation’s food safety strategies.”

Six specific recommendations were offered to the president:

Increase FDA food-related spending;
Require food safety plans;
Require foreign suppler safety plans and build foreign capacity;
Regulate fruits and vegetables;
Adopt a risk-based approach to inspections;
Authorize mandatory recalls.

To read the GMA’s full letter, please click here .

Industry support for FDA strengthening

Earlier this month food companies have come out in support of stricter government regulation proposed by a bipartisan Senate bill intended to strengthen the FDA’s powers to ensure food safety.

Introduced in response to the nationwide salmonella outbreak linked to peanut products, the Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act would require food companies to submit detailed food safety plans, give the FDA the power to order product recalls, and allow it greater access to company records.

The latest salmonella outbreak – which has so far caused 677 reported illnesses and nine deaths – has seen food manufacturers become increasingly open to government-mandated food safety measures, as public trust in the safety of the US food supply has hit at an all time low. It is thought that public trust was particularly damaged when it emerged that the Peanut Corporation of America, the company at the heart of the ongoing peanut product recall, knowingly shipped goods that were tainted with salmonella.


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