WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack yesterday attended and delivered opening remarks at the White House Food Safety Working Group Listening Session. The listening session included stakeholders representing a diverse range of organizations. Vilsack's remarks as prepared for delivery are included below:
Welcome. Thank you for taking time to join us this morning.
Food Safety is of the highest concern for all of us here today. While Americans enjoy one of the safest food supplies in the world, we have witnessed too many outbreaks that make us worry that the food on our dinner plate or in our child's lunch box will harm instead of nourish. This is not acceptable.
Today is the beginning of a significant and critical process that will fully review the safety of our nation's food supply.
President Obama has pledged his full support in this matter and has charged the Food Safety Working Group with examining all aspects of food safety, be it meat or produce, fresh or frozen, whether it is imported, or produced domestically.
This issue will be one of USDA's highest priorities. We are in the midst of reviewing all of our statutory authorities, as well as administrative and regulatory steps we can take, to ensure that our actions support public health and consumer safety to the fullest extent.
We have reviewed the Federal Meat Inspection Act, looked over our existing Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point regulations, reviewed our enforcement authorities, and looked at how we collect data. While we are doing a good job, we at USDA can always do better.
I'd like to outline several specific challenges we need your input on:
Thank you again for joining us today.
This is a very unique meeting that demonstrates the Administration's broad support for food safety reform and our new and enhanced coordination between HHS and USDA to support this goal.
I appreciate your commitment to food safety, and hope I can count on your insight and input in the weeks to come as the group moves forward.