HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach traveled to Costa Rica this week to open an HHS/FDA office that will serve Latin America in the hope of improving collaboration on food and product safety issues. Plans for the new office were apparently launched in June 2008, when health ministers from Central America and Panama gathered in El Salvador to develop a framework for ensuring the trade of quality goods among the countries. Similar HHS/FDA offices are already operating in Brussels, Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, and other offices will open in two cities in India and a location in the Middle East. The stated goal of the HHS/FDA “Beyond Our Borders Initiative is to foster collaboration with regulatory authorities around the world, as well as to forge partnerships with industry on the safety of food, animal feed, drugs and medical devices.” See HHS Press Release, January 7, 2009.

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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