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U.S. Urged to Start 'Fixing the Problem' of Food Safety
Date:3/25/2009

Creation of a separate federal agency is needed, new report says,,,,

WEDNESDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- A new report calls for a radical overhaul of the U.S. food safety system, including the creation of a separate food safety administration with its own food safety czar.

"We want to take the 'F' out of FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] and create a separate food safety administration to make sure this issue gets the attention and resources it deserves," said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the Trust for America's Health, during a March 25 teleconference marking the release of the report.

"The U.S. food safety system is seriously out of date and fragmented, leaving Americans vulnerable," added Michelle Larkin, public health team director and senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "We shouldn't have to worry that our kids are going to get sick from their school lunch or that our family is at risk if they eat out at a restaurant or at home."

The report, titled "Keeping America's Food Safe: A Blueprint for Fixing the Food Safety System at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services," was prepared jointly by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America's Health, a nonprofit advocacy group.

Food safety should be focused on prevention, not action after the fact, the report stated.

Susan Cruzan, an FDA spokeswoman, said that "President Obama has established the White House Food Safety Working Group to examine ways we can reform the system and is strongly committed to strengthening the food-safety system."

"We all agree that we need to start reforming the system and are committed to working together towards that end, although we are not yet in a position to make specific proposals," she said.

Cruzan said the agency is "gathering the information we need to make critical changes and looks forward to working with Congress an
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