June 18, 2007

Dr. Acheson Addresses IBWA Members at June Meeting

WASHINGTON, DC – US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Assistant Commissioner for Food Protection David Acheson, M.D. on June 12, 2007 presented an update on FDA food safety and defense strategies and programs to the IBWA Board of Directors and members during the International Bottled Water Association’s (IBWA) quarterly meeting. Dr. Acheson addressed challenges facing FDA, the integration of food safety and defense, and new program areas in food safety and defense, such as the enhancement of the CARVER risk assessment tool and Strategic Partnership Program Agroterrorism initiatives.

In his presentation, Dr. Acheson praised the leadership of IBWA for its early voluntary development and implementation of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) approach to food safety and for leading the food industry in the implementation of "CARVER + Shock," a protocol used to assess and remediate safety vulnerabilities from source to point-of-sale. Dr. Acheson said, "IBWA kicked-off CARVER + Shock and demonstrated a successful model of partnership between FDA and a regulated food industry to address vulnerabilities. One of the lessons learned from these food defense efforts is the importance of active involvement by the industry’s trade association."

Dr. Acheson described FDA’s mission to make the food safety and defense system work, "better, faster, and cheaper," which will be accomplished through streamlining agency operations and taking a more proactive approach. "We will not only focus on responding, but on prevention, preparation and a focus on solutions," Dr. Acheson stated. "We are working to get ahead of the issues."

"Food safety and food defense equal food protection," Dr. Acheson concluded. "The food supply in the United States is one of the safest in the world and overall food borne illness is low. But the recent spate of outbreaks has caused loss of consumer confidence in food safety and changes in recent years have resulted in a need to refocus our food protection strategy. FDA is committed to a greater emphasis on prevention."