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New Food Import Safety Recommendations Issued

Statement of CSPI Food Safety Staff Attorney Sarah Klein

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For too long, this administration has resisted giving FDA mandatory recall authority, so it's good news that the Interagency Working Group on Import Safety wants to reverse course on that front. Already, several pieces of FDA-reform legislation pending before Congress would give FDA that authority. But when it comes to improving the traceability of food imports, this report is woefully short on specifics. It's hard to recall tainted food if you don't know where it came from, or where it has ended up.

It's also very disappointing that the panel did not address the absurdity of the status quo, where two separate food safety agencies, under two separate cabinet secretaries, each run two separate and unequal import programs. That type of stovepiping hasn't served us well when it comes to ensuring the safety of domestic or imported food. Blandly calling for "enhanced cooperation" between FDA, USDA, and other agencies is unlikely to bring about the same kind of efficiency that a single strong food safety agency would. 

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Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at]cspinet.org) or Ariana Stone (astone[at]cspinet.org).