Single food agency pushed

US - Lawmakers say a single national food safety agency will be more effective in protecting the public.

Under the current federal structure, food safety is regulated by two not-so-similar agencies – USDA, which regulates the safety of red meat and poultry, and the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees all other food. The two agencies operate under two different staffs, authorities, budgets, and agenda. For example, a federal inspector must be present at every USDA-registered meat processing plant in order for the plant to operate.

At non-meat food- processing, FDA inspections are conducted on a routine schedule. Also, HACCP is not mandated at non-meat food plants, but are at meat processing facilities.

The two-agency structure may change. This week Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut) introduced the Safe Food Act of 2005, which, if passed and signed into law, may better protect consumers from foodborne illness by consolidating the current fragmented and overlapping food-safety system, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The bill would establish a comprehensive program to protect public health while also bolstering consumer confidence in the safety of the food supply.

"Our federal food-safety system is nearly 100 years old," CSPI food safety director Caroline Smith DeWaal, said in a release. "It was never designed to manage modern hazards like E. coli O157:H7 or new concerns like mad cow disease, genetically modified foods, or bioterrorism."

calendar icon 8 April 2005
clock icon 1 minute read
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