American Society for Quality Submits Written Statement on Food Safety to Congressional Subcommittee



    MILWAUKEE, August 22 /CNW/ - The American Society for Quality (ASQ), the
world's leading association on quality, this week submitted a written
statement for the record to a congressional subcommittee that is focusing on
food quality and safety in the United States.

    The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on
Energy and Commerce recently held hearings entitled "Diminished Capacity: Can
the FDA Assure the Safety and Security of the Nation's Food Supply?" ASQ
submitted a statement in order to offer perspectives from quality assurance
professionals that it believes will be useful to the Subcommittee, to the FDA
and to the food processing industry.

    "ASQ is indebted to the Subcommittee for providing us the opportunity to
submit suggestions and thoughts on how to drastically increase the safety of
America's food supply," said Paul Borawski, ASQ executive director and chief
strategic officer. "Congress and the FDA should be wary of the drumbeat
calling for more inspection, as this represents a simplistic solution to a
complex situation and an expensive approach that cannot work."

    Now that the food safety hearings are complete, Rep. Bart Stupak
(D-Michigan), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on
Oversight and Investigations, will work with Congress to review input from all
parties. Testimony and other written statements will be considered by Congress
in drafting potential food quality legislation.

    According to ASQ's written statement of record, the Subcommittee should
focus on several other areas in its assessment of the FDA's ability to ensure
safe food:

    --  System and process focus. Today's food safety challenges demand less
focus on end-item testing and more push onto the process and as far back into
the supply chain as possible.

    --  Supply Chain Management. Although much of the existing inspection
effort has been concentrated at particular points close to the ends of the
food chain, specifically at import and processors, a focus on innovative
methods of evaluating the hand-offs further down the chain may yield better
food safety results.

    --  Joint Agency Activities. As these Subcommittee hearings have pointed
out, federal food safety oversight is a fragmented undertaking, with multiple
agencies playing a role. Joint agency activities in complementary fields would
permit more thorough oversight with existing resources.

    --  Government/Industry Partnerships. There will never be enough
inspectors no matter what the design ends up being. What is also necessary is
for the agencies to focus on the weak areas.

    --  International Data System for Traceability. Food safety professionals
are talking more and more about the extreme need to share data internationally
in order to have true traceability.

    --  Carbon Monoxide Process. Although seafood has always been labeled to
indicate CO treatment, this is not the case in meat and poultry. ASQ supports
the concept of labeling to identify foods that have been treated with carbon
monoxide.

    --  Implement recommendations of IOM. The Institute of Medicine's 2003
report, "Scientific Criteria to Ensure Safe Food," made numerous
recommendations that would strengthen the food chain and reduce the incidence
of foodborne illness. Congress and the FDA should take steps to implement
these recommendations.

    --  Congressional and HHS support and funding of FDA proposals. In recent
years certain FDA programs and legislative proposals that demonstrated
innovative approaches to the agency's food safety challenges have died due to
either lack of funding or congressional or administration inaction. These
prevention-oriented initiatives should be supported and funded by Congress.
Funding should also promote better use of existing fee-for-service programs
that strengthen buyer-supplier relationships and ease taxpayer burden.

    To view ASQ's statement, visit the Advocacy Room of ASQ's Web site at
http://www.asq.org/advocacy/issues-actions/activities-topic.html. ASQ also
discussed specific issues surrounding food safety in its most recent Quarterly
Quality Report, titled "Food Safety: A Quality Management Systems Approach,"
which can be found at http://www.asq.org/quality-report/index.html.

    The American Society for Quality, www.asq.org, has been the world's
leading authority on quality for more than 60 years. With more than 93,000
individual and organizational members, the professional association advances
learning, quality improvement and knowledge exchange to improve business
results, and to create better workplaces and communities worldwide. As
champion of the quality movement, ASQ offers technologies, concepts, tools and
training to quality professionals, quality practitioners and everyday
consumers, encouraging all to Make Good Great(R). ASQ has been the sole
administrator of the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award since
1991. Headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis., ASQ is a founding partner of the
American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), a prominent quarterly economic
indicator, and also produces the Quarterly Quality Report.




For further information:

For further information: American Society for Quality Press Contact:
Megan Coulomb, 414-298-8789 x7407 mcoulomb@asq.org

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AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR QUALITY

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