US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Dr Margaret A Hamburg will be visiting India next week to hold discussions with her Indian counterparts and industry leaders on maintaining high-quality standards in producing goods.
During her trip, she will address the World Spice Congress in Kochi and would visit a spices processing plant and a seafood processing facility. According to FDA, her visit, is which planned between February 10 and 18, also includes Delhi and Mumbai to “further strengthen cooperation between the FDA and its Indian regulatory counterparts”.
“The FDA’s ongoing engagement with our regulatory counterparts in India is critical to our ability to effectively promote the health and safety of American and Indian consumers. I look forward to enhancing our existing relationship and identifying additional opportunities for collaboration,” Dr Hamburg said in a statement.
Altaf Ahmed Lal, country director of FDA in India, said a detailed schedule of Dr Hamburg’s visit is yet to be ready. Meanwhile, Spices Board chairman A Jayathilak confirmed her visit to Kochi and said she will be making a presentation on ‘Global reach, global safety- recipes to ensure the quality of spices’, at the World Spice Congress on February 17.
Dr Hamburg will also meet the officials of Marine Products Export Development Authority (Mpeda) in Delhi on February 11 and in Kochi on February 14.
N Ramesh, head of marketing at Mpeda, said her visit is significant at a time when the US is bringing in sweeping changes in their regulations. The US have brought in a Food Safety Modernisation Act (FSMA), which will change the whole approach of FDA by putting more onus on food importers to the country. “Our current exposure to the US seafood market during April-December 2013 alone was $1 billion, which is one third of our exports, and every consignment goes through FDA,” he added.
Dr Hamburg’s visit is also taking place in the backdrop of concerns regarding the quality of medicine, spices and seafoods being exported from India to the US. In March 2012, frozen yellow fin tuna scrape, exported from Kochi, had caused Salmonella outbreak in 28 states and the District of Columbia in the US, affecting 425 people. Three months ago, the FDA revealed in a report ‘Draft Risk Profile: Pathogens and Filth in Spices’, that 92 out of 1,057 spice shipments from India between October 2006 and September 2009 tested positive for Salmonella contamination.
In addition, the FDA recently banned some of the production facilities of Indian drug manufacturers Ranbaxy Laboratories and Wockhardt Ltd for violation of current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) requirements.
Source: Times of India.