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Blogging to the Middle: Improving Food Safety

The findings of the President’s Food Safety Working Group.
download the .mp4 (227.4)

It is every parent’s nightmare – standing by helplessly at the bedside of a seriously ill child. While the American food safety system is the best in the world, serious outbreaks of disease from contaminated food have continued to afflict and threaten the health and safety of Americans. It is estimated that one in four Americans suffers from a foodborne illness each year. Children and older people are particularly at risk.

Today, Vice President Biden, Chair of the Middle Class Task Force, along with Task Force Members Secretary Sebelius and Secretary Vilsack, announced the findings of the President’s Food Safety Working Group. President Obama established the group in March to coordinate Federal efforts and develop short- and long-term agendas to make food safer. 
At today’s announcement, Vice President Biden announced key actions that the Obama Administration is taking to improve the safety of the US food supply:
  • Strengthening "traceback" so that contaminated food is quickly identified and removed from shelves and that people get quick information about problems;
  • Instituting a new salmonella rule to prevent contamination in the egg industry;
  • Issuing new FDA guidance to prevent e. coli O157:H7 contamination of leafy greens, melon, and tomatoes; and
  • Implementing more thorough inspections to prevent e. coli and other pathogens at facilities that handle beef.
These are important steps in making our food supply safer, but we know they are just the first steps.  That’s why today the Vice President also called on Congress to empower the FDA with mandatory recall authority so it can stop contaminated food from spreading in our food supply. 
Terrell McSweeny is Domestic Policy Advisor to the Vice President