US opens import food safety center

31 Dec, 2009 11:54 AM
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THE US Department of Homeland Security, which now conducts food and agricultural inspections at US borders, has opened a new Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center (CTAC) aimed at ensuring the safety of foods imported into the country.

The CTAC import safety operation, which was recommended by the White House Food Safety Working Group, was praised by the co-chairs of the working group, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

In a joint statement, Sebelius said, "with so much food coming from abroad, we must do all we can to ensure that it conforms to the same safety standards as our own food safety systems."

Vilsack said the new CTAC operation "is an important step toward the type of collaboration necessary to ensure that Americans have access to a safe and healthy food supply."

CTAC is being operated under the direction of Customs and Border Protection.

CTAC, located in Washington, DC, is one of six commercial targeting centers in the US operated by Customs and Border Protection.

It will specifically target shipments of imported cargo, including food, for possible safety violations.

The US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and other partnering government agencies, including the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, will provide on-site expertise at the Center, according to a USDA statement.

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