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Safe food supply more vital since 9/11, AFFI president says

Speaking at the United States Chamber of Commerce annual meeting, American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie G Sarasin said a safe food supply is and has always been the priority of companies within the frozen food industry, and such protection efforts have only been heightened since the terrorist attacks of September 11.

Sarasin was invited to participate as part of an expert panel examining “The United States and the World Nine Months After 9/11.” The panel included the US Department of Agriculture's Undersecretary for Food Safety Dr Elsa Murano and Paul Wood, vice-president of corporate affairs for Unilever USA. It was moderated by Dr Tim Hammonds, president and chief executive officer for the Food Marketing Institute.

“Over the last several years, food processors have worked with food safety agencies at the federal, state, and local levels to strengthen significantly the nation's food safety system across the entire distribution chain, from the farm to the table,” said Sarasin. “The main results of this cooperation — evidenced by more effective prevention programs, new surveillance systems, and faster foodborne illness outbreak response capabilities — already have enabled the industry to protect the safety of our food supply against natural and accidental threats. However, in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, these precautionary procedures are being reassessed and fortified to strengthen the industry's readiness for an intentional food security incident.”

Sarasin outlined AFFI's response to food security, including its release of its Corporate Contingency Management Guidelines and Food Security Risk Management Guide, both available to AFFI member companies that manufacture, distribute, and sell food products to the public.

In addition, Sarasin discussed AFFI's role in working with Congress and regulatory agencies such as the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration in crafting federal food safety policy that would provide the food industry with more resources to help ensure prevention of and response to acts of bioterrorism.

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