Remarks prepared for delivery by Jerold Mande,
deputy under secretary for food safety, for the public meeting on product tracing
related to E. coli O157:H7, March 10, 2010, in the Jefferson Auditorium, Washington, DC
Good morning and welcome to our second public meeting on product
Almost one year ago, President Obama established the Food
Safety Working Group. Health and Human Services Secretary
Kathleen Sebelius and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack were given
the honor to co-chair this group.
So on behalf of Secretaries Vilsack and Sebelius, and the Food
Safety Working Group, I want to thank you for being here to
participate in this important meeting on product traceback.
Food safety is a high priority of this administration as evidenced
by the working group and its accomplishments.
But there is still much more to do. The working group identified
improving our ability to trace contaminants back to their source
as a high priority in our July 2009 Key
As you may recall, we held a joint meeting with the Food
and Drug Administration in December that was focused on
improving the system for tracing food products and ingredients
related to illnesses, especially during an outbreak.
We asked for and got your input on what's working right in
our system, where we have gaps, and ways we can improve.
I am thankful you all are here as this discussion continues.
The work here today is important — it is work that's
vigorously supported by both the secretary and the president.
Secretary Vilsack has said that we must do everything we can
to reduce the number of foodborne illnesses, hospitalizations
and deaths down to zero.
Our focus at this meeting is on our product tracing efforts
for Shiga toxin E. coli O157:H7. And more specifically
how we trace back to suppliers when the agency gets a positive
test result from its routine testing program.
We will share with you our latest thinking on how to strengthen
our traceback efforts.
We will explain our role with PulseNet regarding FSIS positive
which was co-founded by FSIS and is directed by the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention, is a prime example of what
we can accomplish when we all work together. This national network
of public health laboratories, combined with epidemiology, has
been key in enabling federal agencies to detect and control
outbreaks of foodborne illnesses rapidly.
Finally we will share with you our thoughts on next steps.
I appreciate Dr. David Goldman, Judy Riggins and Dr. Dan Engeljohn
for being here to speak to you on these topics.
The discussion and efforts to improve food safety don't stop
here. They continue. We also want to hear from you. We have
set aside ample time today for comments and I encourage you
to submit comments in writing to us as well.
I appreciate and share your dedication to food safety. And
I know we all share a commitment, just like the secretary and
the president, to reduce foodborne illnesses and preventable
deaths from foodborne illness as low as we can.