A new program being developed by the FDA will allow third party organizations to become certified and in turn relieve the FDA of some of their duties protecting U.S. consumers. The big question looming overhead, will such a program help or perhaps make things worse?
On July 18,2007 the President issued an Executive Order to establish the Interagency Working Group on Import Safety. One recommendation of the Working Group was to develop third-party certification programs with the goal to improve import safety. Although the President’s plan was to improve the safety of imports, the FDA has taken things one step further and is encouraging an import AND domestic Certification program for U.S. food and animal feed producers. Furthermore, there’s a bonus for companies that participate.
The FDA website states that when an importer or food manufacturer becomes ‘certified’ by a third-party certification body, said company will be provided with less frequent inspections and maybe ever remove companies from FDA Import alert lists. As example, importers of melamine risk ingredients that are currently stopped entering the country for mandatory testing, would be able to go right on by without testing.
Making matters worse, the FDA is not clear on how their Certification Body – the actual third-party organizations that will approve or certify companies and importers – will be developed. And there begins the questions…
As example only, let’s say that The Pet Food Institute, a lobbying organization representing the interests of large pet food producers, applies and is approved to become a Certification Body for the FDA. Becoming the Certification Body for pet food, The Pet Food Institute has the ability to certify pet food manufacturers. Letting your mind go to the ‘dark side’, The Pet Food Institute (and remember, this organization is NOT on the side of the pet owner, they are working for the large pet food manufacturers only) would then have the power to lessen FDA presence in the pet food manufacturing process AND in FDA inspections of pet food ingredient imports. Are you seeing trouble?
Pet food is already the last on the list of inspections and safety concerns of the FDA; right now the FDA openly allows pet food to violate Federal laws. Can you just imagine what a third-party Certification Body will do?
Of course, there is the long shot chance that a third-party Certification Body for pet food will be an organization that will make things better and safer. However, considering how things work now, that’s a real long shot. The good news for the FDA is that once this Certification system is put into place, when recalls happen and people and pets die, the FDA will have someone to blame. They weren’t at fault, the Certification Body did it.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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