USDA, HHS Continue Food Safety Working Group Efforts

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently commended the Department of Homeland Security for opening a center devoted to ensuring the safety of foods imported to the United States.

The Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center (CTAC) for Import Safety is operating under the direction of Customs and Border Protection (CBP). It was created on the recommendation of President Obama's Food Safety Working Group, which is charged with advising the President on how to upgrade the United States food safety system for the 21st century.

"As co-chairs of the Food Safety Working Group, we are committed to improving the safety of food produced in the United States, and also improving the safety of all the food that makes it to the American consumers' dinner tables," Sebelius said. "With so much food coming from abroad, we must do all we can to ensure that it conforms to the same safety standards as our own food safety systems."

The import safety CTAC, located in Washington, D.C., is one of CBP's six commercial targeting centers in the U.S. It will specifically target shipments of imported cargo, including food, for possible safety violations. The Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and other partnering government agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, will provide on-site expertise at the Center.

As part of its collaboration with CBP, FSIS will extend its enforcement efforts to target ineligible imports investigate suspicious shipments based on manifest information filed prior to the arrival of goods at United States ports.

For more information of the Food Safety Working Group, please visit www.foodsafetyworkinggroup.gov.

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