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U.S. Food Safety: A Shopping List of Solutions
Date:1/16/2008

gained by having one agency with one clear mandate."

Michael Doyle, a microbiologist who is director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia in Griffin, agreed.

"There really needs to be a single food safety agency so that you don't have all of this ridiculous overlap and duplication," he said. "When you have it split up into different agencies like that, there's a lot of bureaucratic infighting."

Such a merger would also address the current imbalance in agency budgets and responsibilities. The FDA's food inspection division -- which most agree is woefully underfunded -- is charged with inspecting all foods except for meat, poultry and eggs, which are covered by the better-funded USDA.

Although the "superagency" concept has been implemented in other countries, many observers doubt this will happen in the United States.

"There appears to be no industry support, so that isn't going to go anywhere," said Michael Hansen, senior scientist with Consumers Union.

"There has to be the will within the Congress to do this, and the executive branch has to be willing to tackle this," Imperato said. "Unless they do, it's just going to be business as usual, [and] that's what I've seen so far."

Asked about creating one oversight agency for food inspection, Michael Rogers, director of the FDA's Office of Field Investigations, said a spirit of cooperation -- not confusion -- best describes the relationship between the two agencies. "I think that both agencies understand their roles and responsibilities," he said.

Rogers' counterpart at the USDA agreed. "The goal right now is to continue to increase the collaboration between the agencies to continue to improve the food-safety system," said Dr. Roger Raymond, Undersecretary for Food Safety at the agency.

Calls for FDA Recall Authority

Then there's the issue of the FDA and mandatory recall authority. Every r
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