Wednesday, April 1, 2009
The LA Times reports on the latest food recall - pistachios and has a brief article about the need for reform of our food safety laws. Mary MacVean writes,
Consumers could be forgiven for feeling a little weary about this
week's recall of pistachios that might be contaminated with salmonella. It comes just weeks after thousands of products containing peanuts were
voluntarily recalled in a salmonella outbreak that sickened about 700
people, and follows highly publicized food-borne disease outbreaks
connected to peppers and spinach. As consumers, we all have that reaction, 'Here
we go again,' " said Jeff Levi, executive director of the Trust for
America's Health, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that works
to reform the food safety system.
But the string of alerts keeps food safety on the minds of Americans
and could lead to legislative changes in California and the rest of the
country. . . .
Among the changes under consideration in legislation before Congress
are giving the FDA mandatory authority to recall products; requirements
for food safety systems at companies to minimize the chance of
contamination during production; increased inspections; more funding;
and a better way to track products around the country.
"The reality of the basic system at FDA is that there is no requirement
for companies to have in place modern preventive controls," said Mike
Taylor, a professor at the George Washington University School of
Public Health and Health Services and a former FDA official. "A lot of
companies do it, and Kraft is one of the leaders. They're doing the
kinds of things you'd like the whole system to do."
There also are calls to split up the FDA and establish a Food Safety
Administration. That may be premature, Kathleen Sebelius, the nominee
for Health and Human Services secretary, said at her confirmation
hearing Wednesday. First, she said, the FDA should be restored "as a
world-class regulatory agency." . . .
In addition, a California bill by two Los Angeles Democrats,
Assemblyman Mike Feuer and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, would require
food processors in the state to have plans in place to prevent
contamination and to respond quickly if it occurred. The legislation would require periodic testing and that any positive
result for a dangerous contaminant be reported within 24 hours. Feuer said he was not aware, and expected most consumers did not know, that testing and reporting results were not mandatory. . . .