WASHINGTON, DC — December 6, 2004 — “The final record-keeping rules under the Bioterrorism Act recognize the industry’s proven food safety systems and emphasize action to protect the public instead of paperwork,” said Tim Hammonds, president and CEO of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), commenting on the regulations issued today by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Food retailers and wholesalers applaud the agency for relying on existing records and technologies — proven systems that have worked time and again in product recalls,” Hammonds said. “The industry does not need to create new or duplicative records, an unneeded waste of time and resources.

“Most importantly, should a security threat arise, the rules allow the industry to focus foremost on removing potentially unsafe products from the shelf and alerting consumers. Previous drafts would have forced the industry to waste precious hours on paperwork when we are first alerted to a threat. That time would be best spent acting to protect the public.”

“Implementing the Bioterrorism Act,” Hammonds said, “FDA has consistently emphasized efficiency and public safety over bureaucracy. The registration rules do not call for the creation of company information that is already widely available. The detention rules empower the agency to withhold food that could be hazardous. The shortened prior-notice rules for perishable imports ensure that these products have ample shelf life and will not spoil.

“This regulatory strategy allows the industry and government to devote all our energies to the central mission of the Bioterrorism Act, which we strongly support —to make public health and safety our top priority.”