It is a huge job. FDA, which is responsible for the safety of everything we eat except for meat, poultry, and some egg products, each year oversees domestic food worth $417 billion and imported food worth $49 billion.
It is a job that has become increasingly complex. Consumers expect a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to be available year-round, whether or not they are in season in the United States. Processed food and food ingredients arrive in our country from around the world. And new production methods and techniques present additional challenges.
Recent recalls of peanut butter, fresh bagged spinach, and pet food illustrate the potential difficulties. Although the FDA has a proud history of protecting Americans from unsafe food, it has become clear that our food safety system needs to be improved.
That is why FDA recently unveiled its Food Protection Plan to bolster the safety and defense of America's food supply. This plan is science-based and comprehensive, focusing on the safety and defense of food throughout its entire journey from farm to family feast.
It is also integrated and strategic, weaving together its three interlocking and essential features: prevention, intervention, and response. It will make our good food safety system even better.
The plan contains specific measures designed to prevent problems before they occur, and it proposes ways to intervene at critical points in the food supply chain, whether the food is produced here or abroad. It also details innovative ways to protect our food supply by monitoring and testing food at vulnerable points along the production chain. And, because even the best system is not perfect, this Food Protection Plan strengthens FDA's proven ability to respond promptly and effectively when we detect problems.
Safeguarding our food supply is much more than a major responsibility. It goes to the heart of our agency's mission of promoting and protecting the public health. In the months ahead, FDA will carry out the strategic and legislative proposals of this new Food Protection Plan.
I am confident that our new plan will ensure that the U.S. food supply continues to be one of the world's safest.