Food Safety Overhaul Finally Cooking
By Matt L. Barron
Sickly spinach. Salmonella-tainted peanut butter. E. coli-burgers. It is enough to make Upton Sinclair reach for a sickbag.
Sinclair, whose 1906 muckraking book The Jungle, exposed the gross and unsanitary conditions of Chicago’s meat packing plants and helped pass the Pure Food & Drug Act and Meat Inspection Act, might be amazed at how many holes are now found in our food safety net.
Now, after years of deregulation at FDA and USDA, Congress is moving toward enacting major reforms including: increased inspections, improved food traceability, stronger enforcement tools and creation of a modern registry of all food facilities. The president recently appointed an FDA commissioner with meaty credentials named Dr. Margaret Hamburg. Talk about “where’s the beef.” Even the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which lobbies for the $2 trillion food and beverage industry has backed some new user fees on firms to pay for stepped up repeat inspections, export certifications and more government oversight.
And just in time for today’s opening of filmmaker Robert Kenner’s movie about the American food industry, the Obama administration has created a Food Safety Working Group encouraging people to participate and stay informed.
So get your knife and fork and dig in.