Navigation Links
Report Slams U.S. Food Safety System
Date:4/30/2008

Overhaul of outdated inspection practices desperately needed, critics say

WEDNESDAY, April 30 (HealthDay News) -- The current system that guarantees the safety of food in the United States is in a state of crisis, a new report finds.

Gaps in the food safety system include out-of-date laws, poor use of resources, and inconsistencies among agencies protecting food safety, according to the report Fixing Food Safety: Protecting America's Food From Farm-to-Fork, released Wednesday by Trust for America's Health.

"One in four Americans are sickened by food-borne illness each year, that's 76 million people," Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health said during a morning teleconference Wednesday. "That number is far too high, and major gaps in our nation's food safety system are to blame."

"The major problem with the current food safety system is that no one person is in charge," Levi said. "Instead, there are total of 15 federal agencies that play a role in administering some 30 laws related to food safety."

The whole system needs to change from one that responds to threats as they happen to a more preventive system that tackles challenges before they arise, Levi said. At the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food safety is on the back burner, he added.

According to the report, the U.S. food safety system has not been changed in more than 100 years. Most of the funds spent on food safety are spent on outdated practices of inspecting poultry, beef and pork carcasses, even though changing agricultural practices make this a waste of government money.

Levi noted that despite realizing that the food supply is vulnerable to a terrorist attack, the federal government has devoted very limited resources to the problem, despite a presidential directive and recent serious outbreaks of food-borne illnesses.

Not enough money is spent on fighting bacterial threats such as salmonella and E. coli. About 85 percent of food-borne illness outbreaks occur among foods regulated by the FDA. Yet, the agency gets less than half of all federal funding for food safety, Levi noted.

In the past three years, the FDA has cut back its food safety program by cutting its science staff by 20 percent and losing 600 food safety inspectors, according to the report.

However, on Wednesday, the FDA announced that over the next few months it will be hiring 1,300 biologists, chemists, medical officers, mathematical statisticians and investigators. However, how many of these new positions will be devoted to food safety isn't clear, Levi said.

The report also criticized the number of federal agencies involved in food safety. For example, the FDA regulates frozen pizza, unless there is meat on it, in which case, it is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Moreover, only 1 percent of imported food is inspected, even though about 60 percent of fresh fruits and vegetables and 75 percent of seafood is imported.

Recommendations to fix these problems include:

  • Start inspecting foods throughout the entire food production and processing chain.
  • Enact procedures that will allow the inspection system to be updated as changes occur.
  • Establish standard practices of authority for recall and penalties.
  • Improve inspection of imported foods.
  • Increase FDA funding to improve food safety.

Ultimately, Levi thinks a new federal agency should be responsible for all food safety.

"The goal should be to consolidate and align all federal food safety functions into a single agency, to increase effectiveness, responsibility and accountability," Levi said. "The agency could then address the food supply as a whole and set priorities accordingly."

"Some of the critique is right, but we differ with them on some of their recommendations," said Patty Lovera, assistant director of the consumer watchdog group, Food & Water Watch. "There is a little too much optimism in the report."

One of the problems is that the FDA has not been forthcoming on what it needs to improve food safety, Lovera said.

"The FDA keeps coming to Congress and saying they aren't able to assess what they need," she said. "They need to come up with a number about what it would take to improve oversight."

In addition, the FDA has so far refused to release data about the extent of its food safety inspections, which has caused Food & Water Watch to sue the agency, Lovera said.

In another criticism of the nation's food supply system, a report released Tuesday from the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health questioned current animal-rearing practices.

The report Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America calls for limiting use of drugs in animals destined for the food supply. The report also criticizes large feeding lots that bring together tens of thousands of animals and releasing large quantities of animal waste that contaminate water supplies and spread disease.

The report calls for phasing out these troubling animal farming practices over the next 10 years. Some of these practices include crating pregnant sows to prevent them from turning around, which restricts them from nursing, small cages for egg-laying hens, and force-feeding geese and ducks.

More information

For more about food safety, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.



SOURCES: April 30, 2008, teleconference with Jeffrey Levi, Ph.D., executive director, Trust for America's Health; Patty Lovera, assistant director, Food & Water Watch, Washington, D.C.; Fixing Food Safety: Protecting America's Food From Farm-to-Fork; Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America


'/>"/>
Copyright©2008 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Satisfaction with Health Plans Varies Dramatically From Region To Region, Largely Due to Poor Communication From Insurance Providers
2. Report Finds Food Safety System in Crisis
3. Arena Pharmaceuticals to Report First Quarter 2008 Financial Results and to Host Conference Call and Webcast on Wednesday, May 7, 2008
4. Report raises C. diff concerns; yeast-based probiotic shown to help significantly reduce recurrence
5. Garmin Reports Record First Quarter; Strong Margins and Increased Market Share
6. ViroPharma Incorporated Reports First Quarter 2008 Financial Results
7. LMS CALM(R) receives high customer satisfaction scores in the 2008 KLAS Labor and Delivery report
8. BASF Podcast: The Chemical Reporter - Why do You Get Garlic Breath?
9. New Thomson Reuters Biomarkers Report Shines a Light on Revolutionary New Area of Drug Development
10. Columbia River Resources Inc subsidiary, Traxxec Ltd, reports coverage of its technology at Interpack 2008 (Pink Sheets OTC - CRVR.pk)
11. Mindray to Report First Quarter 2008 Financial Results on May 7, 2008
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Report Slams U.S. Food Safety System
(Date:4/22/2017)... ... April 22, 2017 , ... PharmacyChecker.com released its first International ... of 70% when buying medication online from Canadian pharmacies verified in the PharmacyChecker ... other countries. The report (chart below) compares U.S. and foreign prices for 20 ...
(Date:4/21/2017)... ... 21, 2017 , ... Providing broad access to life-saving drugs and rewarding the ... better way to address this problem. , That was the message from Dana Goldman, ... at the University of Southern California, who served as the keynote speaker for Western ...
(Date:4/21/2017)... ... April 21, 2017 , ... ... adolescents and young adults, has kicked off its 4th annual Forum for Innovative ... year’s theme is “Attachment Informed Therapy for Mental Health and Addiction.” , ...
(Date:4/21/2017)... ... April 21, 2017 , ... The adage “Show, don’t tell” applies ... project in the company’s esteemed VISION House demonstration project series. Manifesting the concept of ... of resources they need to live affordably and abundantly without unduly taxing the resources ...
(Date:4/21/2017)... ... 21, 2017 , ... Crossover Symmetry , an evidence ... active lifestyle company that provides Human Performance Training and education to tactical athletes. ... responders, military officers and others in service through the development and conditioning of ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:4/20/2017)... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the ... Market and Increasing Usage of Complex Biologics during the Forecast Period" ... ... 20 Billion in 2015 to around USD 26 Billion by 2020. ... by Rapidly Expanding Injectables Market and Increasing Usage of Complex Biologics ...
(Date:4/20/2017)... , April 20, 2017 ... platform, the first non-viral gene expression technology that enables ... the eye to address a wide range of ophthalmic ... Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to advance ... ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... The Mobile X-Ray product segment is the most ... the forecast period Mobile X-Ray segment is the ... X-Ray devices market, which is estimated to be valued at ... CAGR of 7% over the forecast period. Mobile X-Ray segment ... US$ 100 Mn in 2017 over 2016. The segment,s revenue ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: