GMA Aims to Beef Up Private-Sector Food Safety Efforts

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May 13, 2009 6:00 AM, By JULIE GALLAGHER


WASHINGTON — Holding food safety auditors to higher standards is one way to keep the nation’s food supply safe, the Grocery Manufacturers Association recommends in “Prevention, Partnership and Planning: Supply Chain Initiatives to Improve Food Safety,” the third in a series of GMA proposals.

“We’ve always endorsed third-party auditors, but what we have identified here is the importance of seeking to ensure that they follow a common accreditation of set standards, so when contracting with an auditor [manufacturers] can be assured that it is fully qualified,” Pamela Bailey, president and chief executive officer of GMA, told SN.

GMA is calling for auditors to be held to standards recognized by organizations such as the American National Standards Institute. Likewise, GMA is working to progress the development of food safety standards/auditing criteria based on Codex Alimentarius, an international body that establishes voluntary food safety standards.

GMA also plans to provide training and education to ensure widespread adoption of Good Manufacturing Practice regulations for food, which are being revised by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“We have a special responsibility to ensure we expand our training and education programs, so they are not just targeted to our members," said Bailey. "We aim to cast as wide a net as possible for our entire industry."

GMA is also helping to improve the flow of information between manufacturers and retailers during product recalls. In partnership with the Food Marketing Institute and GS1, it’s launched an electronic, Web-based product recall portal that facilitates the rapid flow of information between manufacturers and retailers during product recalls. More than 120 supermarket banners, representing 43% of sales, subscribe to the recently launched portal.

GMA's supply chain initiatives were announced days after President Obama proposed to increase the FDA’s 2010 budget by 19%. Half of the increase would go to food safety efforts, according to published reports.

“There is a rare and historic opportunity to enact significant food safety reforms through the combined efforts of Congress, the administration and the industry over the next few months,” Bailey said.





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