The war against terrorism in the US has opened up a new front - the food industry. The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has made protecting the food supply from potential terrorist action one of its priorities for 2002.
The FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), which is responsible for overseeing food safety, dietary supplements and cosmetics, is to create a food security action plan which will assess and address the potential threat to the domestic and imported food supply, the FDA announced this week.
The agency has already released guidelines for restaurants and other establishments to help them ensure the security of their products, and the full list of CFSAN's recommendations and actions will be published later in the year.
Among the other actions planned for 2002 are the introduction of labelling for irradiated food products, a proposal for updating nutrient labelling on foods and rules for safe handling of eggs, juice and seafood.
Of lower priority is the proposal to add information on processed foods' trans fat content to labelling. Trans fat is believed to be more damaging to the heart and blood vessels than saturated fat, and accounts for 4% to 7% of US dietary fat intake.
The FDA has already taken a number of measures in the wake of the attacks on 11 September. For example, it has clarified that the antibiotics doxycycline and penicillin G procaine are effective and approved for use in treating all forms of anthrax infections, and has stepped up its work on measures to encourage the development of new drugs to counter the toxic effects of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons.