Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt and industry trade group executives will meet to exchange ideas and discuss import safety best practices that will benefit consumers. Featured speakers will include Andrew C. von Eschenbach, MD, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Tim Hammonds, president and CEO of FMI and Steven Smith, president and CEO of K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc. and FMI board chairman.
“Consumers expect the food industry to do all they can to ensure the safety of their food,” said Hammonds. “We take this responsibility seriously and actively seek new ways to enhance the safety of our food supply, which requires aggressive support from food wholesalers, retailers, government and other industries.”
“We are pleased to be a part of this important discussion to explore ways to improve the safety of imported products,” said Jill Hollingsworth, group vice president of food safety at FMI.
The summit agenda will include panel discussions about:
- The importance of maintaining a high level of assurance in the safety of products.
- The critical role of auditing and certification programs.
- The legal and regulatory safety and security requirements of imported products.
- The challenges of overseeing food safety in a diverse and global marketplace.
- The role of standards and conformity assessment in allowing manufacturers, retailers and consumers to have confidence in products.
FMI’s U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2008 survey found that 88 percent of shoppers are either very or somewhat comfortable with the safety of food grown or produced in the United States, compared with only 45 percent for foreign foods.
The industry’s strong commitment to food safety — demonstrated by increased sanitation controls, independent auditing and certification programs and other proactive measures can help improve the confidence of many shoppers.
FMI introduced the Safe Quality Food (SQF) program in 2003. Retailers and wholesalers now have an independent means to evaluate and verify the food safety management systems used by their suppliers. It is a science-based auditing and certification program that can be used by all suppliers, from the smallest farm to the largest manufacturing plant. The SQF certification program is one of only five programs in the world that has received recognition from the Global Food Safety Initiative, an organization run by a group of international food industry stakeholders. SQF encompasses food safety standards, training, auditing, and certification that allows a supplier to verify that food has been produced, processed, prepared and handled in accord with all regulatory requirements along with the most rigorous international standards. It has been implemented by over 5000 companies operating around the world.
Additional co-sponsors of the summit are the American National Standards Institute, Biotechnology Industry Organization, Consumer Health Products Association, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Healthcare Distribution Management Association, National Fisheries Institute, National Restaurant Association, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Retail Industry Leaders Association and Toy Industry Association.