Food Safety Campaign Detailed by FDA

Product Liability

Outbreaks of food-borne illnesses and imports that have been contaminated in some way, shape or form, have had the Food and Drug Administration on the defense for the last several years. As a result, the FDA has outlined a new plan to keep the public safe from these unsafe products with a complete overhaul of the plan currently in place. This plan has been called ambitious by the agency’s officials. However, the changes outlined in the new plan, released yesterday, were first outlined in an FDA report in November 2007. In June 2008, the FDA was criticized by the Government Accountability Office for not providing enough specifics or costs on this new plan. The FDA has acknowledged that funding may be a problem.

However, the agency has said that some of the plan will entail hiring 130 more employees to collect samples and conduct inspections, has approved irradiation of iceberg lettuce and spinach to reduce the risks from E. coli and salmonella, and is opening offices in other countries to improve its monitoring of food imported to the US. One office opened in Beijing in November and others are planned for India, Latin America, the Middle East, and Europe. To help implement the new plan, the FDA is moving toward a “more risk-based approach” to sift through data to find those risks and “deploy resources accordingly.” The new offices will attempt to work closely with their counterparts in foreign countries.

The FDA oversees nearly 80 percent of the country’s food supply, including looking into thousands of manufacturers in the US and abroad, as well as regulates medical devices and drugs. The FDA recently came under fire for saying this fall that any amount of the chemical melamine in infant formula was unacceptable because of the harm it might cause, and then revising that statement to allowing trace amounts are acceptable.