USE OF VERIFICATION OF SAFETY STANDARDS FOR IMPORTED FOOD TO PREVENT AND MITIGATE POTENTIAL FOODBORNE DISEASE
(See endnote 42)
The United States imports food from more than 150 different countries which arrives at more than 300 ports of entry into the country. About half of the fresh fruit eaten comes from abroad. The sheer numbers are beyond the capacity of the United States to regulate properly at this time. The World Health Organization has identified foodborne disease outbreaks and incidents as a major global public health threat for the 21st century.
Beyond the very serious problems of food protection in many of the producing countries, there is the increasing threat of harmful chemicals intentionally added to the food supply to increase profits and/or for terrorism. In China, companies added melamine (a very cheap but highly dangerous organic compound used to bulk up food including milk products) to infant formula which has caused infant deaths and potential lifelong health problems.
Best Practices for Verification of Safety Standards for Imported Foods (See endnote 42)
• Frequently update all practices and procedures related to imported foods by utilizing the recommendations and specific short- and long-term action steps identified in the current “Good Importer Practices” document of the Office of Policy and Planning of the FDA. These recommendations come from a working group of experts from eight different federal departments meeting together as a committee.
• Establish a products safety management program for each company importing food into the United States.
• Understand the product being imported and the appropriate requirements of the United States for the production, transportation, storage, and delivery of the product and its usage.
• Verify and document in writing that the product meets and the company follows the standards throughout the product lifecycle and throughout the supply chain as established above.
• Immediately take corrective and preventive action when the product is not in compliance.
• Establish a clear management structure for product safety including all necessary training in evaluating risks associated with the product, means of disease prevention, mitigation and control, and disposal when necessary.
• Especially in relation to drugs, beware that the product may be counterfeited and therefore a threat to health and safety.
• Determine if the product has been exposed to pesticides or other hazardous chemicals during any of the facets of growth, production, transportation, and storage and if so condemn and destroy the product.
• Determine when a safety recall is necessary, immediately inform the public and remove the product from distribution or sales as quickly as possible.
• Periodically inspect the foreign companies that are exporting products to the United States and make sure that they are complying with all appropriate laws, rules, and regulations.
• Compile and constantly update a master list of companies that have been found in noncompliance on multiple occasions.