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Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, was the keynote speaker this morning at the Atlantic Food Summit at the Newseum. In her opening remarks, she addressed a wide range of issues, including revising the outdated, 70-year-old food safety laws and revamping product labels to make it easier for consumers to make healthy choices at the supermarket.
But one of her main points was a new way to look at the “farm-to-table” philosophy that has become the darling of eco-friendly restaurants.
The country needs, Hamburg said, “a farm-to-table approach” requiring “everyone in the system that they are responsible to make our food safe.” And by everyone, she means everyone.
From the farmers to food processors to transportation companies to retailers (whether supermarkets or restaurants) to consumers ourselves. Each has a role, she said, in understanding the possible hazards to our food.
It’s part of the FDA’s shift from crisis management to prevention. The agency, she said, wants to make sure your food is safe before it reaches your table instead of relying on voluntary recalls that frighten the public, cost industry millions, and leave a lasting stain on food systems.