Grocers speak on food safety

I don’t really know Bob Brackett other than an annual chat when we run into each other at meetings. Years ago I started calling him the best-dressed man in food safety ‘cause he always wore a sharp suit.

Bracket started out in academia, established himself at the University of Georgia, then went to government as director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, and then to industry as senior vice president and chief science and regulatory affairs officer of the Grocery Manufacturers Association. That’s a lot of titles. And gives Bracket a credibility others can only talk about. This guy walks the talk, and has done it in various shoes.

Bracket writes in this morning’s N.Y. Times that the Grocery Manufacturers Association agrees with the Dec. 6, 2008 Times editorial that that the Food and Drug Administration should be given more resources and authority to prevent contamination of the nation’s food supplies.

Once in office, President-elect Barack Obama and his administration should commit to increasing annual food-related spending to $900 million by 2012 and should work with Congress to quickly modernize our food safety laws.

Specifically, the F.D.A. should be allowed to set and enforce safety standards for fruits and vegetables; require every food manufacturer to adopt, regularly update and make available for F.D.A. confirmation a food safety plan; and require food importers to document the steps they are taking to police their foreign suppliers.

By doing much more to prevent contamination — and by expanding and better targeting inspections — the next administration can immediately address the challenges of rising food imports and changing consumer preferences.

Good on ya.