FDA moves to educate US food suppliers

WASHINGTON: The FDA is moving quietly, yet rapidly, to implement

new guidelines that shore up the US' food supply from the threat of a

bioterrorist attack.



The guidelines, which were entered into the National Register on January

9, are aimed at educating food producers, processors, transporters,

retailers, and importers about preventative measures that they can

employ to protect the country's food supply "from farm to table," said

an FDA spokesman.



The FDA press department was warned about the guidelines' release months

ago. Its in-house press office - divided into departments that handle

trade press, major news media, broadcast, and online - has been handling

all communications duties. These have ranged from managing press

inquiries to distributing the guidelines to key influencers and

communicators such as industry trade organizations, including the

Grocery Manufacturers Group.



Lessening the risk of creating widespread panic in a situation that is

currently under control, the FDA decided against proactive

communication, and instead relied on old channels to publicize the food

safety measures and the import that they would have on food

organizations.



The three-tier system relied on using the National Register, a site that

is regularly checked by the media, as the first step in drawing

attention to the rules. The second part of the communications process

was that the FDA worked with industry groups, such as the Food Security

Alliance, to help develop the guidelines. Lastly, the press office

readied itself to respond to media questions.



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