WASHINGTON , March 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) today released a new report, Keeping America's Food Safe: A Blueprint for Fixing the Food Safety System at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which examines problems with the fragmented and antiquated current system and proposes ways to improve the food safety functions at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to better protect the nation's food supply.
"Our food safety system is plagued with problems, and it's leading to millions of Americans becoming needlessly sick each year," said Jeff Levi, PhD, Executive Director of TFAH. "The system is outdated and unable to effectively deal with today's threats. Its current structure actually prevents the kind of coordinated, focused effort that Americans need more than ever and have a right to expect."
The report calls for the immediate consolidation of food safety leadership within the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and ultimately the creation of a separate Food Safety Administration within HHS. Currently, no FDA official whose full-time job is food safety has line authority over all food safety functions. A speedy effort by the Obama administration to consolidate leadership within FDA, followed by Congressional action to create a separate Food Safety Administration, would both ensure immediate progress on food safety and create a platform for long-term success in reducing foodborne illness.
President Barack Obama recently called for restructuring and improving the U.S. food safety system. This report helps provide a road map for the first steps toward revamping the system.
"Food safety needs to be a priority on the prevention menu," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "We shouldn't have to worry about our children getting sick from their school lunch or from a family meal at a restaurant. And we shouldn't have to wait until people become sick to learn about food safety problems. We need modern, comprehensive ways of preventing and detecting problems before food gets to the table."
Approximately 80 percent of the food supply is regulated by FDA -- including millions of food producers, processors, transporters, storage facilities, grocery stores, and restaurants -- and the vast majority of known foodborne illnesses are associated with products regulated by FDA. Some recent problems associated with products regulated by FDA include the 2009 Salmonella outbreak in peanut butter and peanut butter products; potential imports of the 2008 melamine-contaminated infant formula and related diary products in China; the 2008 Salmonella outbreak in peppers; and a 2008 Salmonella outbreak from imported cantaloupes.
Some key problems with the current structure of food safety programs at HHS include:
"FDA certainly needs a modern food safety law and more resources, but to make good use of these tools, HHS needs a unified and elevated management structure for food safety that can implement a science- and risk-based food safety program dedicated to preventing foodborne illness," said Michael R. Taylor, JD, Research Professor of Health Policy at the School of Public Health at The
The Keeping America's Food Safe report recommends:
The report was supported by a grant from RWJF and is available on TFAH's Web site at www.healthyamericans.org.
Trust for America's Health is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the quality of the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful, and timely change. For more than 35 years, the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.
|SOURCE Trust for America's Health|
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