Stalling On Food Safety

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REUTERS/Srdjan Zivulovic

Breaches on food safety are so common these days, my eyes glaze over looking at the FDA’s recall list.  In 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 16,112 confirmed cases of foodborne illness, which amount to 15 illnesses for every 100,000 Americans.  But despite what seem like good odds, food safety at farms and processing plants could be a lot better.

After Iowa’s recall of 550 million eggs, food safety advocates thought it would finally force Congress to pass legislation protecting consumers. A bill has already passed the House and is one of the few pieces of legislation with unwavering bipartisan support.  But, as the New York Times reported today, improvements to a federal regulation system for food still seem years away:

The blame lies with a tight Senate calendar, a stubborn senator from Oklahoma and an unusual coalition of left- and right-wing advocates for small farmers who have mounted a surprisingly effective Internet campaign. Their messages have warned, among other untruths, that the bill would outlaw organic farming.

October’s recess for campaigning has meant that many bills have been bumped until November.  The food safety bill, which will empower the FDA to conduct regular inspections of all farms and food facilities, lost its October spot when Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) blocked it over budgetary concerns. (More on ‘Frankenfish’ May Soon Be Spawning: Is Genetically Modified Salmon Safe?)

Let’s hope state inspectors stay vigilant through Thanksgiving!

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