Statement by Commissioner von Eschenbach on the Release of the Strategic Framework Document on Import Safety
Background: HHS Secretary Leavitt today delivered to President Bush a strategic framework on import safety. The framework was developed by the Interagency Working Group on Import Safety, established by the President July 18 to examine our nation’s system for assuring that all of our imported products are safe. For more information, visit: http://www.importsafety.gov.
"I strongly endorse the release of the Strategic Framework developed by the Interagency Working Group on Import Safety and commend Secretary Leavitt for leading this comprehensive effort.
Recent recalls of imported products have caused Americans to question the safety of imports. Americans rightly expect to purchase food and medical products without having to worry about their safety; and assuring the safety of these products is a core part of our mission at the FDA. The President has charged the Interagency Working Group to focus their efforts on how to work smarter and better with importers, manufacturers, and other governments to better assure that the imported products we purchase are indeed safe. As part of this Presidential initiative, Secretary Leavitt and I have traveled extensively these past few months throughout the U.S. visiting the Agency’s field operations. Across the country, we witnessed our field staff standing shoulder to shoulder with our partners from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Customs and Border Protection and others, working together to assure the safety of imported products. In visits to nearly 20 cities/ports from Oakland to Miami, including El Paso, Tex.; Newark, N.J.; and Memphis, Tenn, we saw dedicated professionals doing difficult work; observing first hand the diligent efforts of FDA employees and what they do every day to protect the American people. Most importantly, we heard from these professionals many ideas on how they believe we could do this job better and smarter.
The three organizing principles that form the keystones of the Strategic Framework: Prevention, Intervention and Response are ones we embrace strongly here at FDA and are principles we know will guide us towards better and smarter import safety strategies. We know that in the 21st century’s global economy, our efforts to assure product safety for Americans cannot just begin at our borders, they must begin at the time the products are produced in other countries. I am excited about the fact that these principles have been embraced by the Framework, and I look forward to working with the Group on the Action Plan to be released in November. Together, we will further integrate and enhance our processes relating to the safety of imports"
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