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Posts tagged: Public Health Information System

USDA Continues to Modernize International Food Safety Program

Each year, America imports over 3.5 billion pounds of meat, poultry, and egg products. As our food supply becomes increasingly globalized, it is important to continually strengthen our regulatory programs to ensure that the food on your family’s table is safe. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is the agency that verifies these products are safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged, whether they are produced in the U.S. or abroad.

Over time, we have taken a number of steps to ensure that domestic and international facilities are delivering only the safest possible product to store shelves. In the past year, FSIS created the Office of International Coordination (OIC) as part of our effort to strengthen our agency’s focus on international issues. This is the office I oversee. This week, to facilitate determinations of initial and ongoing equivalence, we launched our improved and web-based Self-Reporting Tool (SRT) to allow foreign countries to submit their equivalence responses and documentation through an efficient and secure online portal.  This new tool saves time previously spent sifting through paperwork and allows us to focus our efforts on upholding FSIS’ strong food safety standards. This consolidated web-based version is yet another advance made possible by the Public Health Information System (PHIS) that helps us collect, consolidate, and analyze equivalence and import data more efficiently. Read more »

Making America’s Food Safety System Stronger

Last week some of the nation’s top leaders in food safety gathered at the Agricultural Outlook Forum in Arlington, Virginia, for a session called “Strengthening America’s Food Safety System.”

USDA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Jerold Mande led the panel discussions. The wide-ranging conversation included Food Safety and Inspection Service Administrator Al Almanza, along with consumer advocates from the Consumer Federation of America and the Pew Health Group’s Food Safety Campaign, industry representatives from the National Meat Association and Cargill Inc., and state and federal public health officials.

To kick off the session, Mande outlined the three principles of the President’s Food Safety Working Group: prioritizing prevention of foodborne illness; strengthening surveillance and enforcement; and improving recovery and response when incidents occur.

Here are a few things that we’re doing at USDA every day to work toward reducing foodborne illnesses:

- In July, the Working Group released its Key Findings that included 15 key actions to improve the nation’s food safety.  We have completed over half and are on schedule to implement them all.

- Secretary Vilsack has made food safety research a high priority, including a new Institute for Food Safety Research and an expanded research budget.

- Later this year, USDA will launch the Public Health Information System, a dynamic new data analytics system that will revolutionize FSIS’s ability to detect and respond to foodborne hazards.

“We must do everything in our power to provide our citizens safe food,” Mande said, “starting with unprecedented cooperation among federal agencies, state partners, industry, and consumers.” He emphasized that this session showed this kind of effort.

If you’re not already, follow us on Twitter for the latest food safety tips and latest news and head over to for comprehensive consumer food safety information from across government agencies.

Deputy Under Secretary Jerold Mande
Food Safety Inspection Service Deputy Under Secretary, Jerold Mande on the panel at the USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum.

By Craig Stoltz, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Web Manager