Mike Leavitt, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, was in Seattle recently and was interviewed by Kristi Heim of the Seattle Times, who reported on the Secretary’s trip to Seattle and his focus on food imports.  Secretary Leavitt is scheduled to travel to China in the near future, and is working to certify imported foods from all countries before they enter the United States.  Heim’s report on new import systems includes the following:

With so many imports, the government can’t inspect everything at the border, he said, so it needs a different strategy. The new plan would use third parties to do mandatory safety certification of riskier products before they are allowed into the country. That would mean more American personnel in key foreign ports, Leavitt said.

Information about certified firms and importers who use only certified firms would be made public, and the use of electronic tracking technologies would also be expanded.

The plan would also increase fines against violators, including raising the cap on civil penalties from less than $2 million to $10 million, and giving the Food and Drug Administration power to recall food products if companies act too slowly.