Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Vilsack: U.S. should have single food inspection agency

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Tuesday he favors a single food safety agency, but he has not decided whether it should be located in the Agriculture Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service, the Food and Drug Administration or an independent agency. Commenting on the salmonella peanut butter scandal, Vilsack told the U.S. Rice Federation that the issue of centralization is key because food safety is both a human health and market issue. "We are the only industrial nation to have two systems," Vilsack said, a reference to USDA's responsibility for meat, poultry and eggs and FDA's responsibility for most other food products. Noting that 325,000 Americans are hospitalized every year for treatment of food-borne illnesses and that "millions" of others have food-borne illnesses that do not require treatment, Vilsack said the government must ensure that the food supply is safe...Government Executive

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