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Public and Private Roles in Food Import Safety: Implementing a Risk-based System

Institutions
University of Florida
Start date
2008
End date
2009
Objective
The overall objective of this two-day national conference is to create a forum for key experts and stakeholders from the private sector, public sector, academia, and advocacy communities to collaborate to examine the major challenges and potential opportunities for implementing a risk-based system of oversight of food imports. In practical terms, the target of the conference will be to make specific recommendations to industry, government and others about how to best create and manage a differentiated import safety system in which government agencies define an overall system of safety assurance including systems in exporting countries and within the United States, and in which firms take steps to ensure and verify the low-risk status of their imported foods in exchange for expedited ease-of-entry.

There are a number of specific goals for this symposium:

  1. facilitate increased coordination, collaboration, and information flow among national and international stakeholders in food import safety from the public and private sectors
  2. deliver informational education and science-based knowledge to participants in the public and private sectors
  3. advance the field of food safety through group investigation of critical issues to seek common ground solutions and to produce new information for decision makers
  4. produce actionable recommendations for empowered parties in the public and private sectors to improve the food import safety system.

    This project will result in a number of outputs, namely in the form of a two-day symposium and a number of products associated with this meeting. Through panel discussions, presentations, question and answer sessions, and breakout groups, the symposium will facilitate the sharing of knowledge and information among participants and the generation of new ideas and knowledge about how to implement a risk-based food import system in the United States. The symposium will foster collaboration between stakeholders and move towards a shared understanding about how to accomplish consensus objectives. When deemed necessary, the project will develop background materials for conference participants, and these materials will be made publicly available. Findings and recommendations that emerge from panel discussions and breakout group sessions will be integrated into a conference summary report, including a synthesis of actionable recommendations to help guide those in private firms, trade associations, and federal and state governments. The project will also pursue publishing a refereed journal article based upon these findings. These materials will be utilized in a coordinated outreach campaign, including follow-up meetings with key audiences. A project-specific website will serve to advertise the conference, serve as a repository for materials and publications, and assist with dissemination of project findings.

More information
NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Recent incidents associated with imported food and consumer products have resulted in public health and customer confidence concerns and to agreement that the import safety system of the United States needs to evolve. Three recent major reports recommend moving to a risk-based approach characterized by increased coordination between government and industry, but fall short on the necessary details. In practical terms, the target is a differentiated system in which government agencies define an overall system of safety assurance and individual firms take steps to ensure and verify the low-risk status of their imported foods in exchange for expedited ease-of-entry. There are many unanswered questions, however, and a clear need for education and dialogue. This two-day symposium coordinated by the Food Safety Research Consortium will bring together experts and stakeholders from the public, private, academic, and advocacy communities to discuss the opportunities and challenges of a risk-based food import safety system built upon increased public-private partnerships, and to make concrete, actionable recommendations for implementing such a system. Utilizing presentations, panel discussions, and breakout groups, the symposia will detail current best practices for global supply chain management for safety, explore policy options for shared public and private responsibilities, examine the tools and mechanisms that can be utilized in such a system, and identify the criteria that can be used to evaluate risk. We will synthesize findings into guidance documents for industry and government, will publish and broadly disseminate a conference summary, and will pursue follow-up meetings with key audiences. Utilizing presentations, panel discussions, question and answer periods, and breakout groups, the symposia will present current best practices for global supply chain management for safety, explore policy options for shared public and private responsibilities, examine the tools and mechanisms that can be utilized in such a system, and identify the criteria that can be used to evaluate risk. We will synthesize findings into guidance documents for industry and government, will publish and broadly disseminate a conference summary, and will pursue follow-up meetings with key audiences.

APPROACH: The symposium will utilize presentations, panel discussions, and question and answer sessions to deliver science-based knowledge to participants from government, the private sector, academia, and advocacy organizations. Background materials for the symposium will support information sharing as well. Breakout sessions will examine specific targeted questions through a group dialogue process towards producing new information and finding common ground between participants. Announcement of the symposium and outreach following the meeting will be coordinated to include printed, electronic, telephone, and in-person approaches to maximize breadth and depth of engagement with key parties. Findings and recommendations from the symposium will be synthesized into a conference summary to disseminate information beyond conference participants to those in represented stakeholder communities, and a refereed journal article will further serve outreach goals. The project will utilize the contact database of the Food Safety Research Consortium to announce the symposium broadly and the project team will use phone calls, in-person meetings, and follow up meetings with key individuals to promote the symposium in advance and to follow-up with findings and recommendations after it has concluded. Project materials and publications will be posted to the projects website (hosted at http://www.thefsrc.org)and disseminated to various electronic media, such as food safety websites and email listservs and discussion groups. Participants attending the conference will be given evaluation forms to fill out on the last day, along with incentives for completing the form, to help determine the achievement of conference goals. Specific feedback on process and final product will be elicited. Those sent the conference summary report will also receive an evaluation form to appraise the value of the publication. We will include a web survey or evaluation on the project website, and will track visits to and downloads from the project website.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
FLAW-2008-01664
Accession number
214309
Categories
Risk Assessment, Management, and Communication