Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Contaminated Food and Food-Borne Illnesses

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand held a conference call Tuesday to discuss her plan to curb food-borne illnesses in America by reducing the incidences of contaminated foods in the markets.

Her plan involves improving inspection, recall response and public education on food that has been contaminated.

Gillibrand wants to increase inspection of beef products to eliminate E.Coli outbreaks. Thus, she is authoring the E.Coli eradication act which will make it mandatory for all beef products to be tested before grinding and before it is mixed with other spices.

Gillibrand, a member of the Senate's Agriculture Committee, is also supporting the Food and Drug Administration's Food Safety Modernization Act. The legislation aims at preventing outbreaks before they begin by requiring facilities to implement preventive procedures. The FDA would have the right to the procedures and testing records of all facilities.

Another priority for the senator is to increase inspection of imported foods into the country as 60 percent of America's fruits and vegetables are imported from abroad. She cited problematic foods from China such as contaminated fish and salmon. She mentioned that the Department of Homeland Security are short of 1/3rd officers who specialize in inspecting agricultural products.

To make recall response faster and more effective, the senator has authored the safe food for schools act which would ensure that schools are swiftly informed when products are recalled. She also wants to ensure that the FDA will have the authority to forcefully recall products off the market, if they haven't already been done so by the producing company.

She is also supporting the consumer recall notification act which will allow the secretaries of the Department of Health and Human Services, the USDA and the commissioner of the FDA to promote communication between states, states and local health departments, food distributors and sellers, to provide fast and accurate information to consumers.

Gillibrand's plan will increase cost to producers, but not to taxpayers.

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