Supervalu executive proposes food safety changes
of Article: http://www.meatnews.com/news/headline_stories.asp?ArticleID=101334
(MEATPOULTRY.com, April 03,
by MEAT&POULTRY Staff
WASHINGTON — Noting the
complexity of modern food production practices, Dr. John H. Hanlin,
vice-president of food safety for Supervalu Inc., Minneapolis, called for
the realignment and modernization of the U.S. food safety system.
Specifically, Mr. Hanlin said part of the program should be modeled after
the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s risk-based surveillance and
enforcement program and focus on other agricultural commodities besides
meat, poultry and eggs.
"In other words,
expand U.S.D.A.’s risk-based inspection system to include commodities that
today receive minimal inspection due to budget challenges at the
F.D.A.," he said in testimony at a hearing before the House of
Representative’s Agriculture committee.
He added that such a
change would push food safety farther upstream in the supply chain and
reduce overall public exposure to pathogens.
"What we propose …
is to focus U.S.D.A. risk-based efforts against improving the safety of all
food commodities, particularly those commodities that are consumed in the
raw state or those that are cooked or pasteurized and eaten without a
further microbial inactivation step, e.g. peanuts, almonds, cooked
chicken," he said.
Mr. Hanlin said he
believed the proposed model would work if the nation created a single food
agency or maintained dual jurisdictional responsibilities within the U.S.D.A.
and the F.D.A.
"In a dual role we
would envision F.D.A. providing the food safety leadership further down the
supply chain, e.g. the manufacture of frozen pizza, entrees, canned soup,
broths, sauces, snacks, seasonings, etc."
He said the proposed model
would enable the agency (U.S.D.A.) to deploy resources against the greatest
food safety risks.
"Imagine for a
moment being able to redeploy the FTE resource currently inspecting a
facility making a frozen, fully cooked, cheeseburger sandwich … and re-training
the inspector to inspect a peanut facility or a spinach farm just prior to
the harvest," he said.
In closing, Mr. Hanlin
said government and industry understand where the food safety risks are.
"We must look beyond
the meat and poultry divide and focus on food safety systems across all
categories of commodities using a risk-based approach," he said.
"There is nothing more important than safe food to those of us in the
food business and all of us as consumers."