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Senate to Hold Hearing on Food Safety

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) announced late last week that it will hold a hearing on reforming the food safety system on Thursday.

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The HELP committee is currently considering the FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] Food Safety Modernization Act, or S. 510, which is similar to an FDA reform bill that passed the House in July.

The legislation has been sitting in committee since last March, when Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the bill.

There have been no hearings on S. 510 specifically, though the Senate Agriculture Committee did hold a hearing on food safety in February in response to the nationwide peanut butter Salmonella outbreak, which sickened over 600 people and killed nine.

The committee will hear from a panel of food safety experts including Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of the FDA, Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of Food Safety at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Michael Roberson, of the Food Marketing Institute, Daniel L. Ragan from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, and Thomas Stenzel, the President and CEO or the United Fresh Produce Association.

The hearing, formally titled “Keeping America’s Families Safe: Reforming the Food Safety System,” will be held this Thursday at 10 a.m. in room 430 in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Live streaming audio and video will be available on the HELP committee website.

© Food Safety News
  • Bluestone PhD

    Senators!! Have the USDA-FSIS scrap HACCP. We never had outbreaks and recalls like they do now, back when inspectors did their job and that was inspect meat. And stop auditing paperwork. If they keep going they need to rename the inspectors to auditors. They need to beg the old retired inspectors to come back and straighten out the problems they have now.

  • jmunsell

    Bluestone PhD must have gotten his/her education back in the pre-science days! He/she is a modern-day Luddite, obvious by his/her reluctance to endorse modern-day “Science”, which USDA claims changes daily. When Pillsbury invented HACCP, the program was designed for consistently safe food, as in fully-cooked, Ready-to-Eat products which can be guaranteed to be safe to astronauts cramped in confined capsules which must be protected from vomit and diarrhea. Pillsbury’s HACCP products all include a “kill step”, which is a step in the food production process which kills all bacteria. Well, USDA/FSIS has attempted to morph Pillsbury’s HACCP into a system which ostensibly will work for raw & meat poultry, an attempt whose failure is evident with each new outbreak and recall. People like “Bluestone PhD” and I are summarily discredited by USDA, not because we lack a committment to science, but because we have the audacity to reveal that USDA-style HACCP is NOT based in “science”, but in political science and science fiction. We are told to “let the [HACCP] system work!” HACCP has been in use at the large slaughter plants for almost 12 years now, and we’d think the process would have matured, especially since it is “science based”. Unfortunately, these ongoing outbreaks and recurring recalls prove not only that HACCP is NOT working, but that our ability to produce wholesome meat is regressing. Dr. William Sperber, who was Pillsbury’s top microbiologist in its HACCP program from 1972 – 1995, has publicly criticized USDA-style HACCP as really not being HACCP at all. USDA’s claim that its version of HACCP as being “science based” is totally noncompliant with truth in advertising laws. And Bluestone PhD is also correct that today’s inspectors merely audit paperwork, and do not inspect meat like they did prior to HACCP’s deregulation of the meat industry. USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) should be renamed Food Safety Auditing Service (FSAS), because inspectors are primarily relegated to auditing paperwork now, in offices, separated from meat production lines. John Munsell

  • John Munsell

    Bluestone PhD must have gotten his/her education back in the pre-science days! He/she is a modern-day Luddite, obvious by his/her reluctance to endorse modern-day “Science”, which USDA claims changes daily. When Pillsbury invented HACCP, the program was designed for consistently safe food, as in fully-cooked, Ready-to-Eat products which can be guaranteed to be safe to astronauts cramped in confined capsules which must be protected from vomit and diarrhea. Pillsbury’s HACCP products all include a “kill step”, which is a step in the food production process which kills all bacteria. Well, USDA/FSIS has attempted to morph Pillsbury’s HACCP into a system which ostensibly will work for raw & meat poultry, an attempt whose failure is evident with each new outbreak and recall. People like “Bluestone PhD” and I are summarily discredited by USDA, not because we lack a committment to science, but because we have the audacity to reveal that USDA-style HACCP is NOT based in “science”, but in political science and science fiction. We are told to “let the [HACCP] system work!” HACCP has been in use at the large slaughter plants for almost 12 years now, and we’d think the process would have matured, especially since it is “science based”. Unfortunately, these ongoing outbreaks and recurring recalls prove not only that HACCP is NOT working, but that our ability to produce wholesome meat is regressing. Dr. William Sperber, who was Pillsbury’s top microbiologist in its HACCP program from 1972 – 1995, has publicly criticized USDA-style HACCP as really not being HACCP at all. USDA’s claim that its version of HACCP as being “science based” is totally noncompliant with truth in advertising laws. And Bluestone PhD is also correct that today’s inspectors merely audit paperwork, and do not inspect meat like they did prior to HACCP’s deregulation of the meat industry. USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) should be renamed Food Safety Auditing Service (FSAS), because inspectors are primarily relegated to auditing paperwork now, in offices, separated from meat production lines. John Munsell