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Research Reveals Need for Expanded Role of FDA in Food Safety

4 comments

The Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council did a study that caused the agencies to strongly believe that the FDA’s current role in enforcing food safety standards is inadequate and needs to be expanded.

A committee of experts that drew conclusions from the study believe “the FDA should…have authority to issue mandatory recalls, create and enforce performance standards, to ban imports from countries with sub-par food safety systems, and to increase the frequency of plant inspection” which currently only occurs every 5 to 10 years, according to an article from MedpageToday.com.

The study reflects on recent incidents of foodborne illness, including peppers contaminated with Salmonella and spinach tainted with E. coli. Experts state that such incidents could have been prevented if the FDA followed a more risk-based approach. The article explains that while the FDA does have some risk management policies, the agency is more reactive in nature.

In addition to increasing preventative measures, researchers also concluded that a more streamlined process would be an improvement. Currently, the “FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCO, the U.S. Department of Agriculture…all have a hand in food safety. A centralized food-only data agency could eliminate redundancy and put necessary data in one spot.”

The committee has made recommendations to Congress on how to appropriately update the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), which was enacted in 1938 and has seen little change since, despite drastic changes in the industry. The main hindrance to the FDA is that, while the agency can inspect facilities, it does not have the power to mandate a recall of food products or shut down an unsafe facility.

Let’s hope that our lawmakers take seriously the importance ensuring that the food we nourish our bodies with is safe. It seems clear that an update to the FDCA is in order. Thanks to the committee of experts for their well-informed suggestions for improvement!

4 Comments

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  1. Mike Bryant says:
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    It depends so much on the administration, I was reading this past week about Teddy Roosevelt’s role in the creation of the FDA. The consumer needs to be protected over easy profits.

  2. strend says:
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    WHAT’S PUT “ON” OUR FOOD??!!

    WHY haven’t the USDA and the EPA tested ALL the farm fields and/or farmers “CROPS” when Salmonella and/or E coli has been found; that could have originated from field crops?

    WHY haven’t the USDA and the EPA checked to see if any of the crops have had bio-control products used on them?

    *Biopesticides, Biofungicides and Bioinsecticides that are manufactured and used on farmer’s crops are LIVING microorganisms (bacteria and/or fungi).

    ARE any of these bio-control “products” contaminated?

    WHY does the USDA and the EPA allow Biopesticides, Biofungicides and Bioinsecticides to be MANUFACTURED IN MEXICO and USED on American crops and for insect control?

    **IF THERE IS “NO FEAR” OF CONTAMINATION IN BIO-CONTROL PRODUCTS;
    WHY does the EPA Form 8570-6 say?:

    QUOTE:
    “After fermentation and prior to further processing, each batch must be tested for the following microbial contaminants and have levels below those listed”:

    •”E. coli Coliform Bacteria”
    •”Salmonella”
    •”Shigella”
    •”Staphlococci”
    •”Vibrio”
    •”Yeast”
    •”Mold”
    #
    st:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    May 15, 2010 at 9:45 am

    DEFINITION OF BIOPESTICIDES:

    Wikipedia Definition:
    The term biopesticide is often used for microbial biological control agents that are applied in a similar manner to chemical pesticides. Commonly these are microbial biological insecticides, but there are also examples of fungal control agents, including Trichoderma spp. and Ampelomyces quisqualis (a control agent for grape powdery mildew). Bacillus subtilis are used to control plant pathogens. Weeds and rodents have also been controlled with microbial agents.

    NRCAN Definition:
    Biopesticides are products containing “natural” [EMPHASIS ADDED] organisms, or their genes or metabolites, that are used to protect vegetation against damaging pests Biopesticides are viewed as an attractive alternative to chemical pesticides because they attack specific pest targets and are more efficient than chemical pesticides. One example, Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies kurstaki, or Btk, is the most widely used biological control agent in forestry.

    EPA Definition

    Biopesticides are certain types of pesticides derived from such natural materials as animals, plants, bacteria, and certain minerals. For example, canola oil and baking soda have pesticidal applications and are considered biopesticides. Biopesticides fall into three major classes:
    1. Microbial pesticides consist of a microorganism (e.g. a bacterium, fungus, virus or protozoan) as the active ingredient. Microbial pesticides can control many different kinds of pests, although each separate active ingredient is relatively specific for its target pest[s].

    2. Plant-Incorporated-Protectants (PIPs) are pesticidal substances that plants produce from genetic material that has been added to the plant.
    #
    st:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    May 15, 2010 at 9:59 am

    THESE ARE THE CROPS THAT HAVE HAD BIO-CONTROL PRODUCTS USED ON THEM (I have not kept the list current):

    *food illness; ALMONDS – salmonella
    *food illness; CANTALOUPES – salmonella
    *food illness; CEREAL CROPS – salmonella
    *food illness; LETTUCE – salmonella
    *food illness; PEANUTS – salmonella
    *food illness; PEPPERS – salmonella
    *food illness; PISTACHIO NUTS – salmonella
    *food illness; SESAME (oil Crop) – salmonella
    *food illness; SPINACH – salmonella AND e. coli
    *food illness; TOMATOES – salmonella

    The above DOES NOT take into account – ANIMAL FEED

  3. Greg Webb says:
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    Mike,

    Your comment is well-taken. The role any agency plays will come from the top; if the mission is deemed important by the leadership, the agency’s actions will hopefully, and should, reflect that.

    Greg Webb

  4. Greg Webb says:
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    Strend,

    Wow! You are really knowledgeable about this stuff! Thank you for this information. I take it you are unhappy with how the FDA has handled this issue? And you think it should inspect farmer’s fields and crops? I think that is a good idea, but is it feasible? How can our government afford to do this, especially in today’s economic crisis. Is there a better and more efficient way to eliminate these problems with food-borne illnesses?

    Greg Webb