Although meat and dairy products are regulated by the Department of Agriculture, the safety of fruits and vegetables is the responsibility of the Food and Drug Administration and the states. But they have jurisdiction only over processing plants. Food safety at the farm level is largely self-regulated.We all know how well industry regulates itself...
That has left government regulators in the position over the past eight years of nagging the produce industry to improve food safety by publishing voluntary guidelines and sending letters of admonishment.
The FDA's critics say the agency doesn't have the manpower to do more. From 2003 to 2006, the budget for the agency's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition has fallen 37 percent, according to agency data. That has meant fewer inspectors and less frequent inspections. In 2005, the FDA conducted 4,573 inspections of domestic food-processing operations. For 2006, the agency said, it hopes to conduct 3,400. There are more than 12,000 such plants in the nation.
"The reality of FDA's situation is they don't have the basic inspectors to inspect the food supply they're in charge of," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "They just don't have the people . . . to manage this problem at the farm level."
Monday, December 11, 2006
The next time you hear a conservative talking about Democrats and all the regulation of industry they have/will impose, don't forget to bring up all the recent outbreaks of E. coli and salmonella in the food chain: