02/11/2009 - With attention focused on the danger of salmonella in tainted peanut products, it’s easy to forget that foodborne bacterial poisoning more often results from eating contaminated meat, poultry or raw eggs.
Despite an overhaul of the U.S. government monitoring system that followed a highly-publicized 1993 E. coli outbreak traced to fast food hamburgers that sickened hundreds and killed four, the rate of foodborne poisoning in humans isn’t dropping.
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Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) inspectors provide a thin line of protection against foodborne illnesses. FSIS tries to uphold a federal mandate to have at least one inspector performing continuous inspection during every shift in a slaughter facility. In a processing facility, the FSIS requirement is to visit at least once per day.
However, because plants typically operate multiple shifts throughout the day, FSIS inspectors often can't meet the requirements. Even with a budget of $930 million, the agency is in need of more funding, said Erik Olson, director of chemical and food safety programs at The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Olson called the lack of resources for both FSIS and the FDA's food safety programs “deeply troubling.” The USDA agency acknowledges problems with both staffing and resources.
Read the full article Beyond Peanuts: Salmonella Tough to Stop on the MSNBC Web site.