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Food Safety: New Year, New Administration

Food Safety: New Year, New Administration

As the Bush administration draws to a close, the old adage, “out with the old, in with the new” is one way to describe the flurry of activity that comes with a presidential transition. Food & Water Watch has been asking the incoming Obama administration to translate their campaign promises of change into action. One way to do that is for the new administration to bring a new determination for the food safety agencies that we look to for protection to actually do what is required of them.

One key change that we are encouraging the new administration to make is the creation of a separate food safety administration within the Department of Health and Human Services. The FDA is both underfunded and understaffed–and the results have been glaringly evident, with their belated and inadequate import alert on Chinese dairy products being just one of many examples.

The FDA just does not have enough people to get the job done, and yet they have no problem giving themselves a pat on the back for what little they accomplish. What they should be focusing on, rather than writing self-congratulatory reports, is creating an inspection workforce that is appropriate, size-wise, with the range and quantity of products that they cover–another request that Food & Water Watch has made of the Obama administration. The fact that FDA is opening three inspection offices in China is a clear example of a Band-Aid solution that doesn’t actually fix the problem–considering how few inspectors they are sending relative to the billions of dollars of Chinese products that are imported into the United States.

That same inspector shortage problem has been plaguing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, which is responsible for inspecting meat and poultry, a system that is constantly under attack. To give you an example, a survey of USDA’s meat inspectors showed that a majority of inspectors stationed in slaughter plants recorded less than half of the regulatory violations they witnessed. Why? Because there are not enough of them to complete all their inspection tasks and necessary paperwork. Food & Water Watch has urged the new administration to adequately fund the meat and poultry inspection program and make sure that chronic inspector vacancies are finally filled.

Food & Water Watch is an organization dedicated to the belief that the public should be able to count on our government to oversee and protect the quality and safety of food and water. For more information, go to www.foodandwaterwatch.org.

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By Sofia Balino, Food & Water Watch

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6 comments

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8:45PM PST on Dec 22, 2011

Did anybody hear about the new international move Codex Alimentarius , which is NOT about food safety but to stop the alternative movement of organic food, herbs vitamins etc.
This came already into law in Europe and they lost most of their herbs.
Before everybody said it is just a "hearsay" = conspiracy theory ..... Vitamins you get in so low doses that it is ridiculous.

You cannot trust anymore your government, wherever you live.

Behind all this is money ..... every sick person is a gain for lots of people ....... AND that some forces want to de-populate the planet. Conspiracy theory .... watch out, you will see it working, but maybe you don't want to survive.

11:09AM PDT on Nov 2, 2010

I still don't feel any safer or any more confident about the food supply or food manufacturing.

5:09AM PDT on Nov 1, 2010

Thanks for the article.

4:52AM PST on Jan 19, 2010

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

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10:53AM PST on Jan 21, 2009

I'd like to see the FDA dismantled completely. Its original mandate of protecting the public from harmful products has morphed into bestowing governmental seals of approval often without any independant evidence of safety. It'd be nice if the inspection and approval of food and drugs was in the hands of state agencies, that were responsible for ensuring the safety of what is grown and manufactured in their respective states.
Obama said in his inaugural address that cutting programs was a necessary part of the "change" that is coming. Well, I nominate the FDA as the first to get the ax.

7:10PM PST on Jan 20, 2009

More inspectors would also mean that smaller farmers could get the inspections they need, instead of getting dismissed out of hand...

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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I love nuts and after this article I love them even more! If we want to have better health and live…

Oh, Duffy, you chose very well when that family picked you !!

Thank you.

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