New Strategy for Import Safety

Ag Secretary Johanns and HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt meet with ag producers in Kansas City to strengthen imported food safety.

Kansas City’s historic stockyard district was the setting for an important stop on a nationwide fact-finding by the President's Interagency Working Group on Import Safety. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt focused on import safety in the meat processing industry during a visit Sept. 12 to Boyle’s Famous Corned Beef, a small meat processing plant established at the stockyards in 1932.

"There is growing demand in the U.S. for a wider variety of foods from around the world and we are committed to ensuring our food safety system keeps pace," Johanns said. "Our goal is to continue to provide a safe and wholesome food supply and to maintain public confidence."

"Our import system does many things right and we intend to keep it that way. But we've got to continue to adapt to a rapidly growing and changing global economy," Leavitt said. "The American people have reasonable expectations that food and other products that they buy are safe. We can and should do all we can to honor that trust."

Boyle's Famous Corned Beef imports meat products from several countries. USDA’S Food Safety and Inspection Service inspect these products at U.S. ports of entry. During further processing, products are subject to daily inspection as required in domestic federally inspected establishments to ensure safety and wholesomeness.

As the working group chair, Secretary Leavitt has investigated the effectiveness of current import safety regulations and standards. On Monday, Leavitt presented the President with an initial report in the form of a strategic framework, which lays out the principles upon which more specific recommendations will be based. These recommendations will be part of an Action Plan scheduled to be released in November.

Immediately following the meat processing tour, Secretary Johanns and Secretary Leavitt met with Midwest agricultural producers to hear their recommendations about strengthening import safety.

A public meeting is scheduled Oct. 1 at USDA’s Jefferson Auditorium in Washington, D.C. Details about the public meeting and comment period, the Strategic Framework and other import safety information are available at www.importsafety.gov.

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