As Food Imports Increase, FDA Can’t Keep Up with Inspections
Ensuring the Safety of Imported Products: Q&A with David Elder
COMMENT: Securing the physical borders of the United States is on the minds of a lot of Americans in recent days, with the influx of people on the American southern border States. But another security problem affecting the American border comes by way of ports access on either coast of continental United States in particular.
It has emerged now that the FDA or Food and Drug Administration (see link) is having difficulties with their inspection program for food imports. Whether it’s a manpower issue or a technical issue, these difficulties poses a credible threat for the health, safety and welfare of 300+ million Americans for obvious reasons. Americans are quite use to consuming food products that are high quality and free from common food infections. So what does this do to the confidence of the American consumer once this issue with the FDA difficulties become widely known among the population?
In California, for example, the primary ocean ports are the Port of Oakland in Northern California and the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach in Southern California. According to a San Gabriel Valley Tribune article earlier this year, both the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports account for 40 percent of America’s water-borne cargo, for example, so it stands to reason that a huge slice of that 40 percent is food importation. California with almost 40 million people now, should be concerned about that.
Food importation is not just limited to water-borne ports on either coast. The controversial NAFTA superhighway (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NAFTA_superhighway) is a proposed supercorridor highway system that is to connect Mexico to Canada using America’s I-35 as the primary link. Since it is assumed that food importation will be conducted through this supercorridor in America’s mid-section, the FDA food inspection program will have to account for this in the future.
According to FDA’s David Elder (see link), quote: "FDA electronically screens all import entries and performs more than 100,000 analyses on about 31,000 import product samples annually. During Fiscal Year (FY) 2009, we performed more than 210,000 examinations of imported goods in the field and conducted at least 1,196 foreign inspections."
For obvious reasons, the exact number of FDA manpower on the ground to perform these onsite inspections at our port facilities is not exactly public information. But it is logical to assume that problems handling food inspections, given the increasing levels of food importation into the United States, will need to be addressed quickly and efficiently by the proper authorities in Washington DC.
As Food Imports Increase, FDA Can’t Keep Up with Inspections
COMMENT: Fulfills a need and ioSafe is a local (Sacramento area) California technology company. There should be a recommendation from responsible persons in the business continuity community for more start-up companies to be located in a California that addresses natural and man-made disasters in California urban metropolitan areas. ioSafe (https://iosafe.com/) specializes in manufacturing hard drive units for home, business and enterprise data storage needs, and utilizes the their data recovery service to assist their clientele in the mitigation process. Not bad for a local television news item in recent days.
NEWS10 URL: http://bcove.me/8qsmz7zf
PHOTO: Public Safety personnel at the Vallejo Ferry Building on June 26th, 2014.
COMMENT: Just happened to be at the Vallejo Ferry Building this morning when suddenly several public safety personnel representing Vallejo Police Department, Solano County Sheriff, and Solano County OES, showed up at approximately 9:15 AM presumably to meet the arrival of the San Francisco Ferry boat “Mare Island” (see photo) about ten minutes later. As a casual observer, I fully expected that a real “emergency” was in progress with respect to that particular ferry boat, but was disappointed to see that in reality nothing of the sort happened — the public safety personnel just took off after 9:30 AM without incident, once all the passengers disembarked from the ferryboat. It would seem to this blogger (without knowing ALL the facts) that this event was either a false alarm or a drill exercise. Would be nice to find out if either was the case, or this would seem to be a waste of time and resources.
National Geographic Complete Survival Manual
COMMENT: This is one of the few book recommendations that will be offered here. The perfect compliment to emergency preparedness, disaster management and business continuity, which is meant for the urban environment. National Geographic is well known in the United States and abroad for its commitment to documenting the natural environment in detail, and have branched off into various specialized subject matters over the years.
National Geographic Complete Survival Manual has a wealth of information for the person interested in learning key emergency and disaster skills for the non-urbanized environment. A must read and a book that is to be kept close at hand not just for the reading enjoyment. This book is filled with expert tips and information from both the National Geographic entity and subject matter experts or stakeholders in dealing with critical life-saving skills when found to be in isolated situations without access to modern communication devices, and managing the time in between before either making it to urbanized areas, or whenever rescue personnel actually get to you.
This manual covered three important areas of consideration: basic survival skills, survival in six natural environments, and appendix or references to geographical information. The initial publication from National Geographic was in 2009, so in 2014 newer editions would be filled with updated information. If interested, you can choose to get it online or bookstores like Barnes and Nobles, for example, who just happen to have it on sale right now in the United States.
Hundreds of Cities Are Wired With Fiber But Telecom Lobbying Keeps It Unused
Taking Cities to the Next Frontier
COMMENT: For a variety of reasons, this revelation of telecom lobbying against the availability of high-speed fiber optic technology down to local start-up businesses and the general population is a travesty and against the notion of providing a fair level playing field in the United States.
Some American cities have overcome this disadvantage. Chattanooga, Tennessee (population: 171,279), for example, have in recent years offered fiber optics to its citizens through its city-owned utility company, Electric Power Board. And of the 50,000 fiber optics subscribers to its fiber optics network, that municipality is expected in 2014 to generate well over $90 million dollars in real revenue.
A nation that prides itself on information and education need not be in the business of limiting that opportunity to its own citizens by way of telecom lobbying in Washington DC. From the standpoint of emergency preparedness, disaster management and business continuity, those stakeholders must accept the reality that the general population also need to have real access to the latest technology in the public domain.
Fiber optics in our time is the “cutting edge” of communications technology, and on a level playing field, provides the needed infrastructure to advance and already advanced nation well into the future. Stakeholders can and must counterbalance the telecom lobbying monopoly on this very important issue.
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Bay Area’s Future Earthquakes: Knockout Blow, or Combination Punch?
COMMENT: Nothing new is being said here in this latest report a few days ago. We all know it’s a matter of time before the San Francisco Bay Area region will have to weather devastating earthquakes. Everybody from elected officials to public works professionals to first responders know the inevitable is coming. Earthquake building standards for California have been implemented now for decades. Yet the last major earthquake to strike the region — the Loma Prieta 1989 earthquake — exposed vulnerabilities everywhere from the Bay Bridge to highway overpasses to residential homes. So now the earthquake professionals want to find out if the inevitable “Big One” is in the future going to be one gigantic bang, or a series of mini-bangs across the region? Tough luck. Something called Mother Nature cannot be predicted ahead of time like that…when she blows, she blows, period.
COMMENT: Usually don’t promote commercial products, but couldn’t pass this one up — especially if the product has direct beneficial applications for emergencies and disasters. The Intellistreets streetlight technology (see graphic) from Illuminating Concepts (see link) is billed as a local infrastructure amenity for municipalities that comes with “sustainability, security and entertainment” features. But this seemingly simple enhancement for local municipalities can also assist them in saving lives during natural and man-made disaster events and life-threatening emergency situations. The best case scenario for such an enhancement is obviously the video and audio technology embedded in the streetlight for monitoring purposes by local authorities; also used in geolocation when pinpointing the exact location of the event in question. Professionals in emergency preparedness and disaster management could see this as an added benefit in their stated missions to protect the public trust whilst provided an aesthetical improvement to local municipalities. Something to think about, but the public will have to be fully informed of the stated purpose in light of privacy concerns related to the surveillance society.
Intellistreets - Benefits And Applications
Smart Connected Community: Real-Time Earthquakes Alert
Is Mexico’s Earthquake Early Warning System a Model for the World?
BACKGROUND: SASMEX began its life as a project in 1990, and has come a long way since then — it wasn’t until recently that it began operating in such a sophisticated manner. Mexico also has an advantage over the U.S. in that its federal government played a strong role in coordinating interstate efforts on this project, said Cris Paden, director of communications for AtHoc, adding that in the U.S., the federal government doesn’t have that level of involvement.
Advice for Emergency Managers on How to Deal with Cyberthreats
BACKGROUND: Donovan Miguel McKendrick, cyber intelligence analyst with the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, shared some of his concerns about cyberthreats at the state and local levels with attendees at the Emergency Management Summit in San Francisco on April 15.