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Government Plans to Improve Food Safety

biden and sebeliusVice President Joe Biden is known for his verbal gaffes. But this time, he’s spot on – it’s tough enough to afford food in these uncertain economic times, people should not have to worry about the safety of that food.

Biden co-chairs the Food Safety Working Group along with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The theme will be contamination prevention.

“The focus is to have a completely different emphasis than we’ve had in the past,” Biden said. “We’re going to make our new priority preventing (food contamination) from happening in the first place.”

The goal is also to tighten up loose regulatory laws. One example of how current rules have been detrimental is the Nestle Toll House Brand refrigerated cookie dough recall that happened this summer. When FDA inspectors toured the company’s plant, the company refused to provide complaint logs and pest-control records. This was perfectly legal under the current rules.

Under the proposed new rules, companies will have to provide the records, according to food safety expert Michael Taylor, senior adviser to FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg.

Here are the proposed changes, which are immune to political opposition since they don’t have to be approved by Congress:

  • Within 90 days, there will be an improved alert system at foodsafety.gov to give consumers access to food safety information.
  • New safeguards designed to cut salmonella in raw eggs, E. coli in ground beef and other pathogens in leafy greens, melons, and tomatoes.
  • A better tracking system will be implemented to spot the origins of outbreaks.
  • Improve the typically bad communication between government agencies that regulate food safety.
  • There will be new positions at the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to oversee food safety.

(via: USA Today)

July 15th, 2009

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