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Report Finds Food Safety System in Crisis
Date:4/30/2008

ontamination of wheat gluten or botulism -- could go undetected

until they are widespread;

-- While 15 federal agencies are involved in food safety, the efforts are

fragmented and no one agency has ultimate authority or responsibility

for food safety;

-- For instance, the FDA regulates frozen pizza, but if the pizza is topped

with 2 percent or more of cooked meat or poultry, then the Food Safety

and Inspection Service (FSIS) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture

becomes the regulatory agency;

-- Only one percent of imported foods are inspected. Approximately 60

percent of fresh fruits and vegetables and 75 percent of seafood

consumed in the U.S. is imported; and

-- States and localities are not required to meet uniform national

standards for food safety.

Approximately 76 million Americans -- one in 4 -- are sickened by foodborne diseases each year. Of these, an estimated 325,000 are hospitalized and 5,000 die. Medical costs and lost productivity due to foodborne illnesses in the U.S. are estimated to cost $44 billion annually. A 2007 public opinion poll conducted by TFAH found that 67 percent of Americans are worried about food safety, and that public concerns about food safety rank higher than Americans' concerns about a biological or chemical attack and natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

The TFAH report follows a series of studies by experts raising concerns about America's food safety, including a 2007 review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Science Board that concluded that the U.S. food supply "grows riskier each year" and a Government Accountability Office report that found federal oversight of food safety to be one of the government's "high risk" programs.

TFAH calls for a series of actions to help the nation modernize the food safety system by using strategic inspection practices and state
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SOURCE Trust for America's Health
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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