Federal food safety officials told those attending the American Farm Bureau annual convention in Atlanta, the rising level of food imports, new consumer eating habits, security threats to the nation's food supply, and continued over-demand for government services has placed strain on the ability to ensure food safety in the United States. And there is concern regarding who would bear the responsibility of implementing any new standards.
Dr. Elizabeth Hagen, USDA's under secretary for food safety, said no one is more important in the farm-to-fork system than the farmer and prevention is at the core of food safety improvements. She supports focusing on traceability of food-borne illnesses and using feedback from producers to prevent future outbreaks. Hagan said newfound safety efforts must be "people-focused" and repeatedly stated that above all, food safety impacts the families of loved ones and that rules should not lose focus on that basic element.
Mike Taylor, FDA's deputy commissioner for foods, told those attending the annual Farm Bureau meeting that everyone is responsible and has a role in promoting food safety. Taylor said the primary responsibility is in the private sector, and they will have increased accountability; however, Congress has directed FDA to develop a set of standards that guide practices on the farm in terms of food safety.