Grocery Manufacturers of America President and CEO C. Manly Molpus called for an increase in food safety research during the inaugural meeting of the Joint Institute for Food Safety Research and applauded the new government institute's mission to promote a unified approach to food safety research. Molpus spoke at a special conference called by top officials at the USDA and FDA to announce the goals of the new Joint Institute.

"By coming together to better prioritize, coordinate and share important food safety research, the federal agencies have taken a positive step in improving collaboration that can only enhance government's objective to bring sound science into policy-making," said Molpus.

Molpus announced that GMA will sponsor the "Food Safety Research Symposium" in conjunction with the Georgetown Center for Food and Nutrition Policy in April 2001 in Washington, D.C., inviting associations from across the food chain and academic researchers to share the broad range of private sector food safety research currently underway. The new Joint Institute will be invited to enhance government knowledge of significant industry food safety research. "Industry, too, can do a better job of coordinating and sharing knowledge of ongoing association-sponsored research," Molpus said.

Reiterating GMA's call for new scientific research on foodborne illnesses, Molpus said such research should be designed to allow the food industry to work with the regulatory agencies to identify, assess and control risks that jeopardize human health. "Sound regulatory decision-making depends upon the availability and application of this kind of scientific research," he said.

Molpus also called for increased scientific data to improve the effectiveness of foodborne illness surveillance, investigation, and response, as well as reliable illness surveillance studies that identify individuals affected in an outbreak and the sources of those outbreaks. "We believe this kind of information can and will spur the development of technologies to decrease the risks of bacterial contamination or prevent it altogether."

"Regulation based on science is even more important in today's new economy, as food companies serve consumers from all around the world and we trading in a global marketplace. In this new international environment, we must be ready to apply our scientific advantage - to put advocacy aside, to focus on real risks, and to resist efforts by some of our trading partners to erect protective barriers to our products in the guise of food safety. Most important of all, the U.S. government must play a leading role in setting the world's most advanced and meaningful food safety standards," he said.