Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2002

Back when I was running the food production facility, we were presented with the new regulations put in place when the congress passed the above referenced act. It was a way the government proposed to ensure that the food being imported into the U.S. was safe and uncontaminated, free from disease and bio-hazards.

I could see the wisdom in the processes they were asking us to put in place. I just couldn't see where the people would come from to enforce this. And it seems, neither did the congress. Money is not available to hire a sufficient workforce to make the kinds of inspections that need to be done to really keep us safe.

Sure food facilities outside the U.S. had a ream of reports that needed to be submitted in advance of shipment, but who was going to process them and oversee the system. We attended conferences and were assured it would run like a well oiled machine.

Some of the things that needed to take place.

Prior notice. A form must be submitted describing the shipment must be filled out and submitted at least 10 days prior to the arrival of the shipment.

Paper trail. You have to keep a paper record of every person or entity that had control of the food priot to its reaching the port.

A complete description of the type of food being shipped. If it is meat, it falls under a certain rule, produce has its own rule. Canned goods, dried fruits etc etc etc.

If it reached the port prior to the notification being filed it was rejected. If it was coming through Mexico and you had a food facility in the U.S. too it had a different set of rules.

You get the picture. It is very convoluted system and had a steep curve for the port inspectors to follow. How, oh how will it get done?

Well, we are no seeing it is not. Food is getting through that is contaminated. Some foods are being delayed because of paperwork snafus. It is a mess.

Can we get a system we can all work with and keep our food safe? Please.