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

dustry -- there is really not new regulation. There is not an overall commitment to enforcement domestically or abroad. This whole plan they are reporting progress on, we think is a step in the wrong direction."

Lovera said many of the food-safety problems that occurred this year highlighted the FDA's shortcomings. For example, late last week, the agency set acceptable levels of melamine in domestic infant formula -- one month after stating that no levels were acceptable.

"That's a month after they said, 'Oh, we don't think there is any safe level for infants.' Then magically, they said, 'Now we have a safe level for infants,' " Lovera said. "They are always in catch-up mode, they are always in response mode."

Jeffrey Levi is an associate professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, and a senior policy advisor to the consumer group Trust for America's Health. He said the new FDA report fails to offer enough guidance for what needs to be done to protect the food supply.

"The report does not rise to the level of providing a roadmap for the next administration about the challenges ahead, the resources that will be needed, and the milestones against which we can measure progress," Levi said.

The challenges to food safety are growing, Levi said. "Especially as we import more food, especially as the food-production system becomes more complex, we need a system that keeps up with that," he said.

Consumers Union, while acknowledging some progress, also said the FDA wasn't doing enough to protect the American food supply.

"The FDA needs a complete overhaul, including but not limited to vastly increased funding, far greater staff and much more frequent inspections of both domestic and foreign food processors," Consumers Union said in a news release. "While FDA's progress report states that the agency has inspected 5,930 domestic food establishments during fisca
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