AFIA continued its prominent leadership position on ingredient import safety during a "National Dialog" workshop in Chicago, Ill., Nov. 28-29, 2007. The Association-sponsored event followed AFIA's participation last month in President Bush's Interagency Working Group on Import Safety. This past summer, AFIA met with Department of Health and Human Services' Secretary Michael Leavitt to discuss the significance and impact of imports on the feed industry.
Open to the entire feed industry, the Chicago meeting was keynoted by Dr. Dan McChesney, director, Office of Surveillance and Compliance, Center for Veterinary Medicine, Food and Drug Administration. Dr. McChesney provided CVM's perspective of ingredient imports and gave an overview of his agency's Food Protection Plan.
Dr. McChesney characterized FDA's current safety approach as "mainly reactive." "FDA is not your quality control firm. It is your responsibility to make safe products," he advised. However, he said a new mindset is underway to try to build safety into the process from the start.
He went on to describe the agency's Food Protection Plan with three core elements: (1) prevention; (2) intervention- verify prevention and intervene when risks are identified and (3) response- prompt and appropriate.
He noted FDA's willingness to share the food safety responsibility and pointed to credible third party certification as a good possibility to consider in achieving that goal.
A second workshop speaker, Tim Costigan, quality director, Prince Agri-Products, covered his firm's experience in importing from China. Among other topics, Costigan discussed production issues, safety and health, traceablity, and provided tips on how to insure that safe ingredients are coming into one's facilities.
AFIA Vice President of Feed Regulation and Nutrition Richard Sellers provided an overview of AFIA's Safe Feed/Safe Food Certification Program, now into its fourth year. He emphasized three critical parts in the program: (1) hazard analysis; (2) product tracking and tracing; and (3) inspections. Sellers reported that AFIA is working with FDA on various aspects related to third-party certification and strongly supports the agency's move in that direction.
Vice President Sellers also distributed the draft paper: AFIA's "Recommendations for Selecting Ingredient Suppliers and Products for Animal Food Production" which served as a working paper and centerpiece for the meeting. The guidance document is intended to provide FDA with ingredient safety issues and factors that it should present to the industry for consideration. Participants were broken down into two groups to discuss the proposed document and make recommendations on very specific topics. The groups then reconvened in a joint session to offer their comments and proposed modifications.
The National Dialog concluded with approval from participants to move forward with development of the proposed industry guidance document. The next step will be to incorporate recommendations made by industry representatives and forward the draft to appropriate AFIA groups for further review.
Special appreciation is extended to the following firms for their sponsorship of the event: BASF (reception sponsor); Baltzell Agri Products; Bill Barr and Company, Inc. ; Prince Agri Products and AFIA's Safe Feed/Safe Food Certification Program.