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Agencies to Hold Meetings on Food Safety Progress

FSIS, FDA, and CDC Announce Dates for Public Meetings to Measure Progress

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced this week a series of meetings to work on measuring progress in reducing the public health burden of foodborne illness from contaminated food.

The two meetings will be held in Chicago, Illinois, on July 21, and in Portland, Oregon, on October 20.

The agencies held a one-day public workshop in March to discuss interagency collaboration in data collection and analysis and outlined the challenges in creating “feasible and effective” food safety metrics. The meetings are part of increased coordination by the Food Safety Working Group, which recommended the food safety system focus on strengthening prevention, surveillance, and enforcement, and improving response and recovery.

“What doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Jerold Mande in the March meeting. “To meet the president’s food safety goals, we need clear, effective measures of food safety so that government and industry can be held accountable by the public.”

He described the current political landscape a “watershed moment” for food safety reform. “We have a president, two secretaries, and leaders in Congress who have made improving food safety a priority,” said Mande, who called the status quo “unacceptable.”

Mande also emphasized the need for measuring progress at the meeting. “We are not regulating for the sake of regulation,” he said. “We want results.”

It is widely acknowledged that creating meaningful food safety metrics is a difficult task. There are a number of data and institutional barriers to measuring the overall public health burden, making it difficult to measure trends.

“The methods and data needs are challenging, which is why we are working closely with the food safety community to find the most effective and feasible measures of progress,” said Michael Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for Foods at FDA in a statement released yesterday.

Those interested in participating or attending the meetings are encouraged to register electronically and in advance through the FSIS site.

The first public meeting will be held on Wednesday, July 21 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Hyatt Regency, 151 East Wacker Dr., in Chicago. The second meeting is scheduled for October 20 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at The Crowne Plaza, 1441 NE Second Ave., in Portland.

Tor request an oral presentation and to submit a presentation, or for special accommodations due to a disability, contact Juanita Yates at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, at (301) 436-1731, or via e-mail at juanita.yates@fda.hhs.gov. The deadline for requesting to make an oral presentation for the Chicago meeting is July 6, 2010.

For more information, see the FSIS website.

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See also: Mande: A ‘Watershed Moment’ for Food Safety April 02, 2010

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