Improving the Food Safety System
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Erik Olson, director of chemical and food safety programs with Pew Health & Human Services Policy*, issued the following statement at today's House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Hearing on the recent peanut-related salmonella outbreak:
“The ongoing peanut product recall, widespread illnesses, and eight reported deaths highlight yet again that the nation's food safety net has gaping holes that must be mended. As President Obama recently said, ‘At a bare minimum, we should be able to count on our government keeping our kids safe when they eat peanut butter.'
“Instead of fearing our food, we need to be focused on improving our food safety system. Many of the key actions needed to address the current problems are included in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA, H.R. 875), introduced by Representative Rosa DeLauro and cosponsored by 31 of her colleagues. The FSMA contains key improvements that will enable federal authorities to better ensure the safety of the food supply—by requiring food companies to implement preventive plans and meet performance standards for contaminants in food; creating a system for certifying the safety of imported foods; establishing a strong risk-based inspection regime for food companies; and granting the government explicit authority over all food-production facilities. The legislation also provides essential enforcement tools such as mandatory recall and civil penalties. It would go a long way toward fixing our broken food safety system.”
*Effective April 2009, Erik Olson is Director, Food and Consumer Product Safety Programs, Pew Health Group.