India adds spice to US life, keeps it healthy

Washington, Jan 9 (IANS) India is the second largest drug exporter and the seventh largest food exporter to the US with nearly one quarter of the spices, oils and food colourings used in America coming from India.

As such, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) works hard to make sure that these India-produced foods and drugs are safe, effective and of good quality, the US watchdog agency said in a consumer update.

With offices in New Delhi and Mumbai staffed by technical experts and experienced investigators in food and medical products, FDA maintains close contact with the Indian government, industries, trade associations, and scientific and academic communities.

Consequently, Indian officials are better informed about FDA's import requirements and the agency is able to share best practices involving the production of FDA-regulated products, it said.

Such contacts have been especially helpful when unexpected issues arise.

"We know who the decision makers are and who to contact to mobilise a response when problems arise that could affect people at home," Bruce Ross, FDA's country director in India based in New Delhi, was quoted as saying.

Ross describes FDA's India office as a portal through which safety information on food and drugs flows back and forth among FDA, the Indian government and industry.

"Either we provide answers to their questions or we link them to the right people who can," he said.

FDA's India office also shares information gleaned from facility inspections with Indian officials so they can take action to improve product safety and quality.

FDA responds to requests from the Indian government to train representatives from industry, agriculture and commerce in agricultural and manufacturing standards and practices used in the US.

"It's a very pro-active way for us to ensure products imported to the states are safe and meet our standards for quality," Ross explained.

For example, FDA-working with India's drug regulators-engaged in training that focused on good clinical practices.

This training facilitated and supported the development of an Indian-specific programme for the inspection and monitoring of clinical research sites, FDA said.

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