Four pillars of food safety

Dave Fusaro, editor of Food Processing, has commandeered my blog today to report news from the Package/Process Expo under way in Las Vegas. "We're not really facing a crisis, but we are facing a challenge." That was how Cal Dooley, president/CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Assn. (GMA), summed up the recent food safety problems posed by ground beef, frozen pot pies, chili sauce, pet food and spinach. Dooley, formerly both a farmer and a U.S. representative, delivered the keynote address on the opening day (Oct. 15) of the Pack Expo/Process Expo twin shows in Las Vegas. With the Topps ground beef and ConAgra pot pie recalls just about a week old, his speech, "Consumer confidence: A shared objective of the consumer packaged goods industry and policy makers," was very timely. Recalls are costly, he noted, and that makes them a big motivation for processors to practice food safety. Recent recalls he noted and their costs: -ConAgra peanut butter $66 million -Spinach $25-50 million -Pet food $40+ million -Chili sauce $35 million -Topps ground beef $31 million And with increased concern over imported foods, GMA has proposed to Congress "The four pillars of food safety": 1. A mandatory foreign supplier quality assurance program 2. A voluntary qualified importer food safety program 3. Capacity building with a foreign focus (expand the capacity of foreign governments and their food safety agencies to prevent and detect food problems) 4. Capacity building with U.S. border focus (to increase import inspection or control) "But you can inspect your way out of this problem," Dooley concluded. "The focus must be on prevention."