forward even if and when the science is incomplete, which she noted will always be the case. She also commented on the need for more work in the area of risk communication at both the national and international levels.
Mike Robach of Cargill, Inc., spoke after DeWaal, providing an industry perspective on some of the issues. In particular, he argued the importance of recognizing the multitude and range of food systems worldwide and the need to reach consensus on key criteria that impact food safety and public health regardless of where that food is produced, processed, distributed, or consumed. The principles underlying these criteria exist, Robach argued, and are already standardized in multiple ways, from GAPs to HACCP, but food companies, inter-governmental agencies, regulatory agencies, consumer groups, academia have yet to make a concerted effort to harmonize these criteria.
The fourth and final panelist of the session, Richard Raymond, Under Secretary for Food Safety at the USDA, presented a USDA perspective on three issues: (1) risk communication and how USDA’s recently established “retail rules” will help alleviate some risk communication problems; (2) how USDA’s new information system, which is currently in development, will strengthen the government’s capacity to conduct risk-based inspections; and (3) USDA’s involvement in a range of international regulatory activities.
A lengthy discussion on several key topics followed the panelist presentations:
The need to improve communication between industry and government
The global nature of the food supply chain: challenges and opportunities
Divergent opinions about the need for more government oversight on farms
Controversy around the notion of a single unified food agency
Water quality and waste management: who is responsible?
Food safety research: some salient topics
Unanswered questions about food safety trends
Traceability: room for improvement
Challenges with microwaveable foods
The need for an international perspective on the issues addressed during this workshop
Sustainability and other future food safety issues