Welcoming Remarks for Under Secretary
for Food Safety Dr. Richard Raymond, for the Roll-Out of the
Small and Very Small Plant Outreach Plan, May 31, 2006, in College
Good morning. I want to thank everyone for coming out and participating.
I want to especially thank Dr. Kerri Harris of the international
HACCP Alliance for hosting the December meeting where many of
these ideas we will present today were suggested. Also, I want
to thank the FSIS employee work group, led by Dr. Karlease Kelly
and Bobby Palesano, who took these ideas and figured out how
the Agency could effectively implement them. Finally, I want
to acknowledge the training staff assembled here today; they
will be leading this change among the FSIS employees.
Today, we're beginning the national roll-out of a plan designed
to ensure that all federally inspected establishments have the
training and resources necessary to produce the safest food
possible in the 21st century, no matter the size of the plant
or type of product they produce.
This is the start of an exciting new era for FSIS. I'm glad
to see that so many people understand its importance and have
come today, in person, on the phone, and through video conference
to offer their support. It is welcome and deeply appreciated.
Enhancing Outreach to Small and Very Small Plants
Everyone here realizes that small and very small plants have
unique needs when it comes to HACCP compliance and making improvements
to their food safety systems.
That's why FSIS has outlined seven strategies in its Strategic
Implementation Plan for Strengthening Small and Very Small Plant
Outreach (PDF Only) that will guide FSIS' actions as
it addresses the unique needs of small and very small plants.
These seven strategies represent a dramatic shift in the Agency's
mindset about how FSIS should strengthen outreach to small and
very small plants; a shift that I see taking root throughout
FSIS, from upper management to our inspectors in the field.
A lot of police cars have written on them a saying that lets
the public know they "are here to protect and serve." I believe
that this important plan just as clearly informs the industry
and all of our other food safety partners that FSIS is "here
to regulate, but also educate."
Central to this change in mindset is FSIS' recognition of the
necessity for improved education, collaboration and accountability.
I believe that education facilitates a greater understanding
and helps close any performance gaps in the implementation and
design of HACCP plans. This enables FSIS and industry to achieve
the goal of HACCP compliance.
I'm much happier with a solution that calls for increased education
rather than for increased regulation. However, we will
do whatever it takes to ensure that a robust HACCP system is
implemented and maintained in each and every plant, large or
But we can't think of our education efforts only in terms of
training. We must also help small and very small plant owners
become aware of the variety of resources available to assist
them in improving their food safety systems.
Partnerships will be critical to helping spread the message
that there are educational and economic resources available
to small and very small plant owners to help them move not only
their HACCP plans, but also their physical environments, into
the 21st century. It does no good for a plant to know about
needed improvements if they lack the economic resources to make
them a reality.
I deeply appreciate the eagerness of Under Secretary for Rural
Development Thomas Dorr and Under Secretary for Research, Education
and Economics Gale Buchanan to collaborate with the Office of
As I mentioned, a variety of partnerships will be vital to
this effort. And partnerships between the government and industry
will be especially crucial. In particular, we must strengthen
the working relationships between small and very small plants
and FSIS' inspection program personnel. There's no reason why
we can't work collaboratively to ensure that small and very
small plants have up-to-date, effective food safety systems
Both industry and government are accountable to the public
for ensuring the production of safe and wholesome products.
The simple fact is that we must have safe products, no matter
the size of the plant or the types of product they produce.
After all, a consumer eating a steak at a restaurant or a hamburger
at a picnic doesn't know if that product came from a large,
small or very small plant. Nor should it matter.
We understand and embrace the need for accountability on all
levels. Only by holding ourselves accountable can we ensure
that we're fulfilling our duty to regulate and educate the industry.
It's a good example of how our effort to change how we think
is also changing how we act.
I believe that our actions will continue to demonstrate just
how much has changed regarding FSIS' approach to outreach to
small and very small plants.
Please don't think of today as the culmination of our efforts
to improve outreach to small and very small plants. Rather,
it's just the beginning. This issue will remain an important
priority for the Office of Food Safety.
We want to ensure that small and very small plants will remain
strong and vibrant partners as we move into the next hundred
years of food safety.
The bottom line is that we all have the same objectives - safe
food and healthy people. We must never lose sight of these common
Thank you again for your time and I look forward to your thoughts
during the discussion section of our program.