HHS Sec. Leavitt Blogs About Shrimp, Food Safety
Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt yesterday lauded the ability of independent, third-party certification programs to improve food safety and highlighted the farmed shrimp industry's efforts in his blog.
In his latest entry, "Safety at the Speed of Life-Blog 4," Leavitt detailed his recent trips to Vietnam and Central America to meet representatives of the countries' shrimp-producing industries. Both regions are key suppliers to the United States, which imported 1.23 billion pounds of shrimp last year.
Leavitt says a system of developing and verifying compliance of safety standards through an independent organization is the type of collaboration the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will rely on in the future.
"A centerpiece of our new strategy is to encourage, leverage and build upon such voluntary third-party efforts. We are not inventing a new concept. It already exists. And it works," Leavitt writes. "We observed independent certification being used in many sectors of the import world. Until now, we have not integrated this capacity for improvement into our regulatory responsibility. This needs to be a government-wide strategy; ultimately, it should apply to all product lines."
Leavitt also says products from certified companies - ones that establish trust with the FDA - will be granted expedited entry and access to the U.S. market.
"So we are saying clearly: 'We want you to have access to American consumer markets - we want to have access to yours. To do so, you need to meet American standards of quality and safety. If you can demonstrate through a process we trust that your products meet the safety standards that we have mutually agreed upon, we'll be your partners in speed,'" he says.
To read the blog entry in its entirety, visit http://secretarysblog.hhs.gov/my_weblog/2008/07/safety-at-the-3.html.