by Marion Nestle
Feb 18 2011

Michael Taylor goes international

Michael Taylor, the FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods, gave a talk in London yesterday at a meeting of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GSFI).

GSFI, for the policy wonks among you, is a project of the Paris-based Consumer Goods Forum (formerly CIES), which brings together CEO-level food industry executives to discuss topics of mutual interest—a World Economic Forum for food companies, as it were.

I’ve given several talks at these meetings over the years, presumably because the organizers like to stir up some controversy once in a while.

Mr. Taylor’s speech, which you can read here in its entirety, does not seem particularly controversial—unless you think that making business responsible for ensuring food safety is controversial:

For those of you who live and work in the European Union countries, imported food is a fact of daily life.

And many emerging economies recognize that food exports can help drive their economic growth.

It is for these reasons – high public expectations and expanding trade in food – that the effort to improve food safety and to build prevention in from farm to table is a global movement…and is good business.

It is a global movement that, very importantly, recognizes that the primary responsibility for prevention rests with business – with those who produce, process, import, and market food.

Consumers certainly have a role to play as food handlers and preparers.

And, of course, government plays a vital role in providing scientific leadership, setting standards for effective prevention of food safety problems, and ensuring through inspection and other means that those standards are understood and met.

But everything we do to improve food safety rests on the foundation of the food industry fulfilling its duty to do everything it reasonably can to make food safe.

FoodSafetyNews has more details on what the meeting was about.   Taylor’s speech is a sign that the FDA is on the job.

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  • Sheila

    Glad to see you call out this speech, Marion. The new food safety law brings some long overdue attention to imported food. Take this quote from Michael Taylor’s speech: “Importers will, for the first time, have a clearly defined responsibility and accountability for the safety of the food they bring into our country.”

    Hopefully these additional checks and balances along the supply chain will help!

  • I would like to read the text of the speech but your link does not lead there unfortunately… looking for it on the GFSI website but if you could update your link that would be very helpful!

  • Bother – it appears I need a password to access the presentations.

  • Marion

    @Sarah: Apologies. It was linked to the wrong file. It’s now fixed. Look at the link under “read here in its entirety.” And thanks for pointing out the error.