(Nov. 8) The Bush administration’s new Import Safety Action Plan asks Congress to give the Food and Drug Administration mandatory recall authority on food products, and that may be a good thing, produce industry leaders said the week of Nov. 5.

“They’ve proved they can stop product from being sold, but if they feel they need authority to get product off the shelf, then let’s go ahead and have Congress give them that authority,” said Kathy Means, vice president of government relations for the Produce Marketing Association, Newark, Del.

Means said Congress needs to appropriate the money along with the authority to help FDA with its oversight.

Means said the PMA has called for U.S. standards to that apply equally to imported and domestic produce and the new plan appear to do that.

“We have to find out what this means for produce, and we will be doing that,” she said.

If Congress gives the FDA mandatory recall authority, its performance may improve, said Lee Frankel, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, Nogales, Ariz.

“That (mandatory authority) theoretically makes FDA more responsible in the process as well,” Frankel said.

Web Editor’s note: For related coverage on the FDA’s Food Protection Plan, see our story (outdated link – contact the web editor at webeditor@thepacker.com if you need this information)