FDA issues voluntary food safety guidelines

| Thursday, January 24, 2002

The Food and Drug Administration has issued new food security guidelines to help in protecting the nation's food supply against bioterrorism threats. The new guidelines could affect the way truckdrivers pick up food-related freight.

The FDA began working on the guidelines after September 11 when Defense Department analysts said the nation's food supply was vulnerable to attack. There are two sets of guidelines, one for imported foods and one for domestic sources. The guidelines include: securing windows and doors to warehouses, more patrols and surveillance and better security rules for trucks and other means of transport. The rules also would cover regular inspections of employee lockers, bags and vehicles.

Other FDA guidelines ask for background checks on employees, unusual behavior by employees and restricting access to laboratories.

In the meantime, Congress is working on anti-bioterrorism legislation that will allow the FDA and other agencies to increase inspections of food imported to the United States, require better recordkeeping on food shipments and container loads.

Officials say response to the new guidelines has been favorable. The voluntary guidelines are being issued before a public comment period begins. Guideline details can be found at www.cfsan.fda.gov. Submit written or e-mail comments by Mar. 11 to John Kvenberg, Office of Field Programs (HFS-600), CFSAN, Food and Drug Administration, 5100 Paint Branch Pkwy., College Park, MD 20740, 202-205-4187, e-mail: jkvenberg@cfsan.fda.gov.

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