Washington Snubs Single Food Safety Agency; Californian Calls for Mandated Practices

Richard Raymond, USDA undersecretary for food safety said combining several agencies from USDA and FDA "is an unnecessary solution."

"The USDA and the FDA have a long history of working together very well, and I think it's been improved even in recent years," Raymond said, according to news media reports.

The Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration share that responsibility, but they don't have the same inspection and safety authority.

Outbreaks of food poisoning linked to fresh produce are on the rise, Robert Brackett, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, observed in media reports. He revealed that the FDA is considering all of the regulatory options that it would need to respond.

On the other side of the fence, Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of food safety for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said that is not enough. She said there is no real central agency that can go to a farm and immediately address the problem.

Meanwhile in California, the source tainted produce, a State Senate committee is holding hearings on safety along the food distribution chain.

State Sen. Dean Florez (D-Shafter) and others on the Senate Committee on Governmental Organization are pressing state regulators and industry representatives to find out if more needs to be done to keep California and U.S. consumers. Florez believes voluntary controls over safety in growers' fields may not be strong enough to keep contamination from happening to lettuce, spinach and other food products.

Florez is advocating mandated, "common sense" safety practices throughout the industry to be safer.


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