A US food industry body has thrown its weight behind calls for reforms to food safety legislation in the wake of a number of high-profile safety scares.

"Food safety has really made its way into the spotlight. As an industry, we have invested heavily to ensure the safety of products," a spokesperson for the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) told just-food today (7 April).

"However, where reforms to regulative bodies and legislation can tighten the safety net, these changes should be made."

GMA CEO Pam Bailey outlined the organisation's position at a gathering of industry experts hosted by the GMA in Miami, Florida.

"In addition to stepping up our own efforts, we are advocating legislative and regulatory reforms that will modernise our nation's food safety net, prevent problems before they arise and bolster consumer confidence in the safety and security of the food supply," Bailey told her audience.
The GMA has developed a reform proposal that would place new regulatory mandates on food companies and provide the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with additional resources.

The GMA said all food manufacturers should have a food safety plan and a foreign supplier safety plan in place. The industry body also said that the FDA should increase its food-related spend, adopt a risk-based approach to inspections and have the authority to issue mandatory recalls. 

"Our industry has a tremendous track record of success when it comes to product safety, but we can do even better. We have a rare opportunity to enact meaningful reforms, and we urge Congress and the Obama Administration to enact those reforms right away," Bailey concluded.

Public confidence in the US food regulatory bodies has been shaken by a number of large-scale, highly publicised, food recalls.

Salmonella contamination of peanut products manufactured by the Peanut Corporation of America has sickened more than 700 people over the last four months and led to the recall of over 3,000 products.

Last week, another salmonella outbreak hit the sector, when a different strain of salmonella was linked to pistachios manfactured by Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella.