OFFICIALS INAUGURATE FOOD SAFETY INSTITUTE OF THE AMERICAS
MIAMI, Oct. 13, 2004 - U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Jim Moseley and Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elsa Murano, along with elected officials and dignitaries from throughout the Western Hemisphere, today inaugurated the Food Safety Institute of the Americas (FSIA) here to develop and promote effective food safety education and training programs throughout the Americas.
"This institute is the first of its kind and seeks to provide a cooperative, educational oriented relationship with the nations in the Western Hemisphere," Moseley said. "FSIA will address food safety and public health concerns by establishing and enhancing important networks among regulatory officials, researchers, public health officials, consumers, meat, poultry and egg processors and producers, as well as animal producers."
Murano said the establishment of the institute supports priorities established by Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman to spur the exchange of information and technology among countries around the world, which was the centerpiece of ministerial level meetings on science and technology held in Sacramento, Calif., in June 2003 and follow up meetings in May 2004 in Costa Rica and Burkino Faso in June 2004.
The grand opening activities began with a ceremonial signing of cooperative agreements between USDA, the University of Florida and Miami-Dade College, designed to reflect relationships between the cooperators to carry out educational or special studies programs to improve the safety and security of the food supply in the Americas. The University of Florida and Miami-Dade College are the first institutions to partner with FSIA in this endeavor. Public meetings to discuss the focus and mission of the FSIA will take place in the afternoon and will continue Thursday and Friday at the Radisson Hotel Miami, 1601 Biscayne Blvd. On Friday, Oct. 15, an open house will be held between 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. at the FSIA headquarters, the Claude Pepper Federal Building, 51 SW First Ave., Suite 1321.
USDA has worked to improve food safety programs in the Western Hemisphere by working with governments to raise the level of food safety activities and become active participants in international food standard setting bodies like the Codex Alimentarius Commission. In June, Murano signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Pan American Health Organization to improve the safety of meat and poultry products that are traded among the nations of the Western Hemisphere.
The establishment of FSIA also is an objective outlined in the recently released "Fulfilling the Vision: Initiatives in Protecting Public Health", Murano said. This document reviews recent successes and builds on the course the Bush Administration set last year to improve the prediction and response to food safety challenges and further reduce the rate of foodborne illness.