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Congressional Report Criticizes FDA for Food Safety
Date:6/12/2008

Its release coincides with efforts to track down source of salmonella-contaminated tomatoes

THURSDAY, June 12 (HealthDay News) -- With the ongoing outbreak of salmonella-contaminated tomatoes as a backdrop, Congressional investigators said Thursday that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has failed to meet its own stated goals of protecting the nation's food supply.

Investigators for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) were scheduled to tell the House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday that the FDA has done little to implement its "food protection plan," which the agency released in November, The New York Times reported.

"In March 2008, FDA officials indicated that a progress report on actions taken to implement the 'food protection plan' would be issued in April 2008. In May, FDA officials told us that they had prepared a draft progress report, but as of June 4, 2008, FDA had not made this report public.

The food protection plan calls for establishing a risk-based inspection system of food plants, "which is particularly important as the numbers of food firms have increased while inspections have decreased," the accountability office report said, according to the Times.

The release of the GAO report comes at the same time that U.S. health officials said they were zeroing in on a source for the recent outbreak of salmonella from contaminated tomatoes.

"The question is where specifically did these tomatoes come from," Dr. David Acheson, associate commissioner for foods at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said during a teleconference Wednesday. "We're getting very close, but at this point, today, we don't know for sure where they did come from."

Parts of Florida are still under investigation, although northern Florida, which was not harvesting at the time the outbreaks began, has been ruled out as a source for the contamination.'/>"/>

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