es to domestic and international assessment activities and that our assessment
processes be transparent and replicable.
In addition, FDA participates in
Codex Alimentarius, the international
food safety standard-setting organization. The goal of Codex is to foster
fair trade in safe food. The concepts of
protecting consumers through safe food
and promoting fair trade are mutually
reinforcing. We consider Codex guidance and standards as we develop our
own approaches to assessment activities.
In this regard, the Codex Committee on
Food Import and Export Inspection and
Certification Systems is of importance
to FDA’s approach for import and assessment activities.
With respect to your question about
ensuring global food safety, it is important to point out that FDA plays an
important role regarding the safety of
U.S. food exports. FDA supports safe,
wholesome, and accurately labeled food
exports through our export certification
activities. We also coordinate foreign
audits of the U.S. FDA system of oversight, where foreign regulators review
the U.S. system for a product or set of
products, and of individual U.S. manufacturers or producers.
Collectively, FDA’s food safety activities contribute to raising the food
safety standards and production practices globally.
Bernd van der Meulen: I am a food
legal expert active as scholar, teacher,
and consultant, as well as one of the
chairs of the GHI Food Law and Regulations Working Group.
Adina Alexandra Baicu: In 2017,
I became the cochair of the Food Law
and Regulations Working Group of the
Global Harmonization Initiative (GHI).
Food Safety Magazine: How would you describe your specific role in assessing the
safety of the food entering your country (in other words, what is your role in ensuring
global food safety)?
Sultan Ali Al Taher: Dubai is a gateway for food imports and exports in the
Middle East region; Dubai ports are handling approximately 90 percent of all food
trade of the UAE [United Arab Emirates]. The safety of the food entering in Dubai
is being ensured by the Food Safety Department. Some of my specific roles in the
department related to food entering the United Arab Emirates area are as follows:
• All food items are registered with labels and assessed prior to import.
• The compulsory documents (full manufacturing details, health certificates, etc.)
are checked and verified at the ports.
• Samples are collected from the consignment for microbiological and quality
• Only safe and quality products (based on laboratory results) are released.
Robert Ahern: As an international organization, IICA helps countries modernize their food safety systems to ensure that they can safeguard consumer health
while facilitating safe trade. IICA can provide needs assessments for national food
safety services, coordinate the development of a common vision for improvement
among the public and private sectors, and identify interventions to strengthen key
technical capacities along the production chain.
Camille Brewer: First, let me point out that FDA regulates most foods consumed in the United States, except for meat, poultry, most processed egg products,
and catfish. These food products are regulated by our colleagues at the United States
Department of Agriculture (USDA).
My role at FDA is to contribute to the policy and programmatic framework
for engagement with other nations that
produce and export foods to the United
States. My portfolio covers equivalence,
systems recognition, capacity building,
bilateral partnerships, multilateral food
safety engagement, and public health and
trade. Collectively, these areas serve to
create a multi-layered framework that supports the safety of imported foods.
Let me give you an example of one of
our programs that involves assessment. Systems recognition is a regulatory cooperation activity that allows FDA through a rigorous assessment process to identify
comparable food safety systems. Among other things, once we have assessed a country’s food safety system and found it comparable, FDA can rely on the competent
authority in that country to follow up if there is a food safety problem. This allows
FDA to allocate resources based on risk, which allows us to focus our time and attention on areas of higher risk.
The assessment to determine comparability is based on the model we use for assessing our states. It is critical that we are balanced and evenhanded in our approach-
UAE: “A single set of standards would have
a positive impact on the amount and cost of
resources used to test and inspect foods to
ensure that they are safe.”
Costa Rica: “Countries that focus on hazards
rather than risks contribute to a general
misunderstanding around the safety of global