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US FDA to Lead Food Safety Modernization Act Workshop at Jamaica 6th Int’l. Food Safety Conference

Montego Bay, Jamaica – Dr. Carmen Booker, Assistant Regional Director of the US FDA Latin America Office will deliver the “FDA’s Food Safety and Modernization Act: What’s New?” Workshop during Day one and Day two of the 6thInternational Food Safety Conference of the Food Hygiene Bureau.

The Conference will be held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Rose Hall, Montego Bay, Jamaica─ October 18 and 19, 2012. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), has been described as the “most sweeping reform” (i) to US Food Safety laws in more than 70 years (US FDA). The FSMA was made law on January 4, 2011; and is an amendment to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

The changes are aimed at ensuring the US takes a proactive approach to ensuring the safety of foods supplied in US Markets; and could result in foods produced and supplied by local as well international entities being recalled or barred from entering the US market.

As part of the process Jamaican and Caribbean entities are currently being audited by the FDA. Entities that fail to meet the standards relating to:

• producing and supplying foods which , are tested and approved by accredited laboratories;
• sharing their food safety plans with the FDA when requested;
• having written food safety protocols that are being implemented to mitigate against hazards;
• having approved facilities and;
• adopting and applying acceptable traceability and recall mechanisms; could find that their exports are excluded from US Markets.

On the 14th of September 2012, The Jamaica Observer reported that over “95% of Jamaican food companies” (ii) were without Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) certification; which is a critical requirement of the US import standards.

The upcoming workshops present an opportunity for Jamaican and Caribbean entities involved in producing, handling, transporting, exporting and distributing processed or unprocessed foods to the US as well as regulatory agencies and trade support organizations to learn how to:

• Ensure they are ready to meet the new US Import Standards;
• Prevent their exports and facilities from being excluded from exporting to the US;
• Prevent costly detentions of their exports as well as;
• Have their questions and concerns answered directly by the FDA.

The Regional Director is highly recommended and qualified to share needed knowledge, insights and guidance for ensuring entities operating along the food production and export supply chain know what steps to take in order to meet the requirements of the FSMA. The deadline for the implementation of the final phase of the Act is scheduled for December 2012.

Jamaica now has the opportunity to ask and have questions answered for ensuring her ability to maintain; if not exceed needed and threatened food export earnings of approximately US$118 million (Based on figures for 2010).

Dr. Booker’s qualifications and expertise includes a PhD in pharmacology and toxicology from the Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University; where she also completed her doctoral research in autoimmune disease and immunotoxicology.

She began her career at the US Food and Drug Administration as a toxicology reviewer in the Office of Food Additive Safety, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN). There, she was responsible for reviewing food additive petitions, GRAS notifications, biotechnology notifications, as well as consulting on infant formula reviews.

In 2003, Dr. Booker moved within CFSAN to the Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling and Dietary Supplements where she conducted new dietary ingredient reviews as well as infant formula reviews.

In 2005, she began working as a toxicologist in the Division of Dermatology and Dental Products within the Office of New Drugs in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). In CDER, she served as the chair for the CDER Immunotoxicology Subcommittee for four years and established an annual immunotoxicology symposium attended by hundreds of scientists from several countries.

For more information or to register for the conference please visit the conference web site at: http://www.foodsafetyconference-jamaica.org
Or via Email: foodhygienebureau@fsjamaica.org

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