Is this appropriately named appointee the key to overhauling America’s Food Safety system?
On the SFGate’s Food Matters blog Marion Nestle answers this question posted by a reader:
“Q: President Obama has nominated Dr. Margaret Hamburg as the next Food and Drug administrator. What issues would you like her to tackle?”
Nestles points out that Dr. Hamburg’s (seriously, could her name be any better?) job isn’t just about specific issues but about a fundamental change in food safety in the U.S. A super sized order, no doubt, but recent repeated break downs in our food safety system keep killing people.
Nestle echoes CU’s Jean Halloran, calling for these reforms in.
The first big issue we think Dr. Hamburg and Congress should tackle?
“The first step in overhauling the FDA should be requiring that food processing plants are inspected every year.”
But there’s more! In fact, we created a handy one pager of other reforms that are needed to protect the nation’s food supply.
- Food Facility Inspection: All facilities regulated by the FDA, foreign and domestic, should be subject to mandatory, regular FDA inspection, with higher-risk facilities inspected on a more frequent basis – at a minimum once a year. Between 2003 and 2006, FDA domestic food safety inspections decreased 47 percent on average, Currently, domestic food production facilities are inspected once every 5 to 10 years, foreign facilities even less frequently.
- Traceability: Food should be able to be easily traced throughout the supply chain.
- A Substantial Increase in Resources for FDA: FDA is an agency currently unable to do its job and a significant increase in appropriations for the agency is essential.
- Mandatory recall authority: The FDA and USDA must be given mandatory recall authority.
- Disclosure of retail consignees: The FDA should be required to inform consumers of the supermarkets, restaurants, schools, and nursing homes that have received recalled food.
- Process Controls: Production facilities should be required to develop food safety plans to identify hazards and implement such measures to reduce hazards.
- FDA Border Inspections: FDA inspects less than one percent of food imports at the border. This must be significantly increased, especially for high-risk foods.
- Whistleblower Protection: Federal employees must be protected from the threat of being fired, demoted, suspended, or harassed as a result of providing information or assisting in the investigation of a violation of a food safety law.
- Civil Penalties: Food companies must be subject to civil penalties for violating food safety laws.
You can read more here.