Is the Food Industry Ready for the Bioterrorism Act of 2002?

A recent study by the Food Policy Institute suggests it isn't

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The Bioterrorism Act takes effect on Dec. 12. Are American and international food firms ready?

While most food firms sympathize with the need for guidelines against a possible bioterrorist or agroterrorist attack against the U.S. food system, results from a recent Food Policy Institute (FPI) study suggest that many food firms are not prepared for the new FDA rules and feel that complying with the Bioterrorism Act will not come easy.

Four key sections of the Bioterrorism Act significantly impact the food industry. These include, regulations on facility registration, prior notice of food imports, administrative detention, and record keeping requirements.

Security with a cost

A small and diverse group of food industry executives convened for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) telecasts last spring to learn about proposed regulations for the Bioterrorism Act.

Their post telecast responses on the four sections reveal that 60 percent of stakeholders generally do not know what to expect from the Bioterrorism Act and the remaining expect that compliance will pose a "moderate to significant burden" on their businesses.

FPI director and Rutgers University professor Calum Turvey commented on the Bioterrorism Act, expressing that it has the potential to affect the way business is carried on today. Turvey, a co-author of the study, notes, "It is very likely that businesses will face direct and indirect costs as a by-product of the act."

While the four sections of the Bioterrorism Act seem burdensome, many of the firms interviewed were sympathetic toward the need for a Bioterrorism Act. Seventy-seven percent feel the act has or will lead to increased food security, and are confident that food system security will increase with the act in place than without.

The Food Policy Institute of Cook College at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, applies principles of academic research to address issues of greatest relevance to the food industry. For further information on bioterrorism, agroterrorism and food biosecurity, visit its web site at: www.foodpolicyinstitute.org/research/security.html

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