News

Fixing Food Safety

On April 30, 2008, Trust for America's Health (TFAH) released a new report that identifies major gaps in the nation's food safety system, including obsolete laws, misallocation of resources, and inconsistencies among major food safety agencies.

Our goal should be reducing the number of Americans who get sick from foodborne illness. But we can't adequately protect people from contaminated foods if we continue to use 100 year-old practices, said Jeff Levi, PhD, Executive Director of TFAH. We need to bring food safety into the 21st century. We have the technology. We're way past due for a smart and strategic upgrade.

TFAH calls for a series of actions to help the nation modernize the food safety system by using strategic inspection practices and state-of-the-art surveillance. While many of the recommendations are focused on government actions, the report finds that fixing food safety will require a collaborative effort by food producers, processors, distributors, retailers, and consumers, combined with strong leadership from the federal, state, and local government. Some of the recommendations include:

  • Repeal outdated end-product and processing plant inspection mandates and shift the emphasis of inspection practices to the prevention of outbreaks and illnesses through the entire food production process and supply chain;
  • Create mechanisms that allow inspection practices to keep pace with changes in the industry;
  • Establish uniform performance standards and best practices that are enforceable through actions including detention and recall authority and civil penalty authority;
  • Require food safety education for commercial food handlers;
  • Improve monitoring of foreign imports and international practices; and
  • Strengthen the FDA with increased funding and aligning resources with high risk threats, with the long-term goal of realigning all federal food safety functions.

Original article