March 4, 1998


Food safety is part of the basic contract between American consumers and their government. Any food that doesn't meet our clear and strict standards shouldn't make it into the United States. It's that simple.

- President Bill Clinton
March 4, 1998

Today, President Clinton calls for legislation ensuring the safety of all imported foods, including fruits and vegetables. This legislation will enhance the Food and Drug Administration's authority to prevent the import of fruits, vegetables, and other food products that do not meet U.S. food safety requirements. The President also announces the release of a report that provides a blueprint on how the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) will work cooperatively with the agricultural community to develop guidance on good agricultural and manufacturing practices for fruits and vegetables.

Enhancing FDA Oversight For Imported Foods. President Clinton is calling on Congress to pass food safety legislation that gives the FDA greater authority over imported foods. This legislation will ensure that the FDA halts imports of fruits, vegetables, and other food products from any foreign country with food safety systems that do not provide the same level of protection required for U.S. products. The legislation also permits the FDA to consider refusal of inspection as a factor in halting imports from a country or facility. The President already has committed approximately $25 million in his Fiscal Year 1999 budget to enable the FDA to dramatically expand its international food inspection force in order to implement this legislation.

Improving Agricultural And Manufacturing Practices. The President is announcing the release of a report outlining the progress already made -- and the measures that must still be taken -- to develop guidance for the growing, processing, shipping, and marketing of fruits and vegetables by October 1998. The guidance -- the first-ever specific safety standards for fruits and vegetables -- will address potential food safety problems throughout the production and distribution system and help ensure the sanitation and safety practices of all those seeking to sell produce in the U.S. market.

Building On A Strong Record Of Accomplishment. The President's announcement builds on a strong record of food safety initiatives, ensuring that Americans eat the safest possible food. The Administration has put into place improved safety standards for meat, poultry, and seafood products, and has begun the process of developing enhanced standards for fruit and vegetable juices. The Administration also has expanded research, education, and surveillance activities throughout the food safety system. Major accomplishments include: