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FDA Touts Efforts to Enhance Food Safety
Date:12/1/2008

and to share suggestions on ways to address global food safety.
  • It is hiring an "international notification coordinator" to serve as a liaison between the FDA and its foreign counterparts.
  • It has approved the irradiation of iceberg lettuce and spinach to control toxins such as E. coli.
  • It has developed tests to detect contaminants such as melamine and cyanuric acid.
  • On the intervention front, the FDA said it has inspected 5,930 high-risk food establishments in the past year; has developed a rapid detection test for E. coli and salmonella in food that's now being used in poultry-processing plants; and has expanded its database of "adverse drug events" to include "adverse feed events," to respond faster to outbreaks of feed-borne disease in animals, among other efforts.

    As for its "response" efforts, the FDA said it's working with industry and the public to find better ways of tracing fresh produce in the food-supply chain; has hired two "emergency/complaint-response coordinators" to improve the agency's response to emergencies involving animal feed, including pet food; and has reached agreements with six states to create a "rapid response team" for food and food-borne illnesses.

    In response to the threat of melamine-contaminated infant formula and milk products from China, the FDA said it has canvassed more than 2,100 stores stocking Asian products to remove them from store shelves.

    Some critics think the FDA's food-safety efforts still don't go far enough.

    "We were not a huge fan of some of the goals they laid out, so we are not a huge fan of the progress they've made," said Patty Lovera, assistant director of the consumer watchdog group Food & Water Watch.

    Lovera thinks the FDA needs to have more independent authority to enforce food safety.

    "They are too reliant on the industry," Lovera said. "They are really collaborating with the in
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