Customs Joins Food Protection Efforts

Dec 08, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

In case you missed it, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) signed a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) last week paving the way for
Customs agents to begin inspecting food imported into the United States.

In a released statement, Mark B. McClellan, M.D., Ph.D., commissioner, FDA said, “This MOU is an important milestone in our extensive efforts to protect the safety and security
of the national food supply. It enables us to work more efficiently with CBP, combining their strong resources with our own expertise in keeping on the alert for potentially hazardous
foods and responding to possible threats. We are committed to using the Bioterrorism law to safeguard our food supply to the fullest extent possible, without imposing any unnecessary
costs or restrictions on food imports.”

In related news, Friday is the first day that food manufacturing and processing facilities will be required to give the FDA advance notice of all imported food shipments. The goal
of this new regulation is to make it easier for the agency to find the source of food contamination and alert firms to the danger.

As of two weeks ago, only 20 percent of the firms required to register with the FDA had actually done so.

Moderator’s Comment: Will the decision to let Customs agents inspect imported food help improve the safety of the food supply in a meaningful way? What
are your thoughts on the government’s efforts to protect the nation’s food supply?

The MOU between the two agencies will mean that Customs agents, who only check a small percentage of imports will now split their time inspecting a greater
number of categories of products, not a greater number of shipments.
Anderson – Moderator

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