Monday, September 29, 2008

FDA faulted for produce oversight

Who plans a "foodborne illness outbreak"???...

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Preparations for a biological attack and repeated outbreaks of food poisoning have interfered with efforts by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to improve the safety of fresh produce, according to a report released on Friday.

The agency is also unclear on what it plans to do to shape up, the Government Accountability Office said.

"While FDA has considered fresh produce safety a priority for many years, resource constraints and other work -- including counterterrorism efforts and unplanned events such as foodborne illness outbreaks -- have caused FDA to delay key produce safety activities," the GAO report reads.

"FDA has no formal program devoted exclusively to fresh produce and has not consistently and reliably tracked its fresh produce spending."

It said the FDA spent at least $20 million or about 3 percent of its food safety dollars on fresh produce in 2007.

The fresh produce industry has indicated it would welcome stronger regulation, especially after outbreaks of Salmonella carried by peppers from Mexico and that sickened 1,400 people from April to August of this year and an E. coli epidemic in 2006, traced to California spinach, that killed three.

link to full article

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