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Food Safety Resolutions for 2010

Editor’s Note:  This list is a compilation of submissions from the Food Safety News publisher, staff, readers, and food safety experts.  It includes suggested New Years resolutions for President Obama; the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA); Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); state and local public health agencies; the food industry; the meat industry; and our Federal, state, and local governments.

new years resolution.jpgPresident Obama should resolve to nominate an Under Secretary for Food Safety at USDA who will make the mission of the Agency protecting public health above all else. This should happen in January.
 

The Senate should resolve to pass S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, with scale-appropriate regulation for local, sustainable agriculture that does not interfere with existing organic regulations. 


Congress should resolve to pass meaningful food safety legislation to also modernize USDA.

Congress should resolve to give FDA and USDA mandatory recall authority.

The U.S. Attorney’s office should resolve to criminally prosecute Stewart Parnell and all future food company executives who intentionally put the public safety at risk by selling contaminated food.

USDA should resolve to declare non-O157:H7 shiga toxin-producing E. coli and antibiotic-resistant Salmonella per se adulterants in ground beef under the Federal Meat Inspection Act. 


USDA should resolve to enforce a true zero-tolerance policy for E. coli O157:H7 in all meat products immediately.

National restaurant chains, beef producers, and USDA should resolve to discontinue the use of ammonia-treated beef in hamburger products.

USDA should resolve to raise the quality of lunches provided through the National School Lunch Program above and beyond the quality of food provided at fast food restaurants.  

All states should resolve to adopt the 2009 Model Food Code as a minimum standard immediately. 


Local and state health departments should resolve to improve their relationship with CDC on outbreak investigations. 


CDC should resolve to increase active surveillance of foodborne illness by expanding FoodNet from its current 10 states to all 50 states in January. 


FDA and USDA should resolve to implement statistically significant retail testing and sampling for pathogens in high-risk food items. 


FDA should resolve to require testing or other forms of certification to guarantee all imported foods meet or exceed US food safety standards, not just one percent. 


FDA should resolve to resist industry pressure to weaken and industrialize organic standards and so guarantee that when “organic” appears on food it means something significant.

FDA should resolve to increase and improve labeling for genetically modified foods, labeling all foods for genetic modification whether they are pre-made, sold at grocery stores, or restaurants, by the end of 2010.




The food industry should resolve to improve traceability in all areas. 


States should resolve to outlaw raw milk sales.  Raw milk consumption should be limited to those people who own cows (not through cow-share agreements). 


CDC, FDA, and USDA should resolve to increase transparency in outbreak investigations and food recalls, posting what they know within 24 hours of when they know it as part of the Government Transparency Project and declassification protocols. 


USDA and FDA should resolve to prohibit health claims for food products unless there is proven, scientific support for the proposed claim. 


Food companies should resolve to write clear, scientifically supportable cooking instructions to appear on packing for potentially hazardous food products, like those containing raw meat or vegetables. 


Meat companies should resolve to be more explicit about the risks of consuming under-cooked meat and required cooking temperatures in the “safe-handling” instructions that currently appear on all meat products.

USDA should resolve to post online all inspection results (e.g., noncompliance records) for all meat plants it inspects, and create a searchable database that consumers can access online to review the inspection and test results of all meat plants by entering USDA establishment number.


Federal, state, and local governments and NGOs should resolve to foster a culture of food safety in the food industry and at home by providing training through middle and high school curricula.

© Food Safety News
  • “Raw milk consumption should be limited to those people who own cows (not through cow-share agreements). 
”
    I was wishing we HAVE raw milk here in Singapore. They are not any dangerous than drinking from vaccinated cows.
    How about GMO labelling of foods?
    You made a good list though!

  • hhamil

    To make my comments clearer, I have numbered them as if you had numbered your suggested resolutions. They are as follows:
    2) First, Congress (not just the Senate) needs to provide dependable, adequate funding for the food safety responsibilities the federal government has already assumed. Second is the scale appropriate regulation you support. This might best be understood if it mandated that the USDA and FDA separately apply HACCP’s principles to the portions of the entire American food system for which each is responsible.
    10) & 14) Ironically, #10 requires all states to be uniform and #14 wants to exempt our entire country from exactly the same kind of uniformity that is being forced upon us under our WTO obligations (e.g., Codex Alimentarius). Federalism is the principle you reject in #10 and then espouse in #14
    11) I believe this resolution is backwards. The relationship is controlled by the CDC and it is the one that needs this make resolution not local and state health departments. A good example of this was in the 2006 Spinach outbreak (e.g., see http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2007-09-20-spinach-main_N.htm)
    12) Before Food Net is expanded, how about the CDC completing the currently outstanding annual reports on the system (i.e., 2006, 2007, 2008). Then, it could use the existing Food Net data representing 46% of the country to make a peer reviewed revision to its 1999 study of the incidence and impact of foodborne illness. Of course, outsiders would be able to do this were the data reasonably available for use by everyone not just those favored by the CDC. I can’t access its foodborne illness data in any meaningful way.
    13) I believe some of this is already being done. On the other side, it would be nice if the Consumers Union were to discontinue its practice of doing statistically INSIGNIFICANT retail testing and sampling (e.g., it’s January 2010 report “How Safe Is that Chicken?”) and then denigrate as statistically insignificant good results while declaring that the entire study shows…
    15) The FDA has nothing do with the use of the word “organic.” Its use is ENTIRELY controlled by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service as authorized by the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937. The National Organic Program is entirely under the control of the AMS.
    16) I find this one particularly ironic considering the role that Michael Taylor played in blocking good labeling and the food safety advocates’ lauding his appointments at the FDA.
    18) Explain to me where you are drawing this line between freedom of choice and protecting the public health. This seems to say it’s OK if I have the money and opportunity to provide raw milk for myself but not OK for someone else to sell it to me when it could be done under clearly safer circumstances than I could do it myself.
    19) I certainly agree that we need greater speed and transparency but this opens up the real possibility of demagoguery that could result in panic and horrendous impacts against producers who have no connection to the outbreaks. This occurred in the false 2008 Salmonella St. Paul scare on tomatoes. As Sen. Hagen of NC pointed out, one modest sized, third generation, family farm in NC lost $750,000 and was almost put out of business despite having no possible connection to what was occurring. This was due to abysmal work by the CDC and FDA.
    22) Use of the term “under-cooked” shows how industrial meat producers and food safety academicians have manipulated the discussion by re-framing it using misleading language. “Under-cooked” is understood quite differently than “rare” and “medium rare.” Using that language shifts the responsibility from the producer to the preparer. How about a resolution Food Safety News to not ever use the term “under-cooked” again in reporting what has happened and to call those who use the description in commenting on what has occurred. I would call that good journalism.
    As someone who, along with my wife, has invested over 14 years of my life and much of my wealth (made elsewhere) to expanding the availability of local, healthy food for local people, the top 3 resolutions I would like are as follows:
    #1 – That we re-frame the issue from “safe food” to “healthy food.” “Safe” food is NOT enough and has no context. Soylent Green was “safe” food but it surely wasn’t “healthy.” It is impossible to discuss healthy food out of the context in which it was grown, processed, distributed, prepared and consumed. For those interested in supporting this change and are committed to healthy food for all Americans, please write me at healthyfoodcoalition@gmail.com.
    #2 – That those favoring legislative change would strive to win their “reforms” and “modernization” via careful consideration of the merits of their proposals rather than via the use of the suffering of injured people to inflame emotional support. When I was a young boy in the 1950’s, a friend died from burns when her bathrobe was ignited by the open flame of a gas space heater. I remember praying passionately for her to be healed during the 10 or so days she fought to survive. I remember the local support of the push for mandatory flame retardant fabrics that resulted in the widespread use of tris phospate. Later, on 4-7-77, tris was banned by the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (see http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml77/77030.html). As I recall, it was later estimated that many times more people were injured and died from cancers created by the tris-treated, flame retardant clothing than ever from the flames they controlled. S 510 & HR 2749 mandate similarly uniform, nationwide change. Will the “cure” actually work? I don’t believe so.
    #3 – That the advocates for of all these resolutions make the substantial effort necessary to more fully understand the reality of our situation and the impact of their proposals. They could start by asking for input from people like me who are impacted by their resolutions. Maybe, then I could get back to growing healthy food instead of having to put everything on hold to take the 2+ hours necessary for me to write comments like these.

  • Harry Hamil

    To make my comments clearer, I have numbered them as if you had numbered your suggested resolutions. They are as follows:
    2) First, Congress (not just the Senate) needs to provide dependable, adequate funding for the food safety responsibilities the federal government has already assumed. Second is the scale appropriate regulation you support. This might best be understood if it mandated that the USDA and FDA separately apply HACCP’s principles to the portions of the entire American food system for which each is responsible.
    10) & 14) Ironically, #10 requires all states to be uniform and #14 wants to exempt our entire country from exactly the same kind of uniformity that is being forced upon us under our WTO obligations (e.g., Codex Alimentarius). Federalism is the principle you reject in #10 and then espouse in #14
    11) I believe this resolution is backwards. The relationship is controlled by the CDC and it is the one that needs this make resolution not local and state health departments. A good example of this was in the 2006 Spinach outbreak (e.g., see http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2007-09-20-spinach-main_N.htm)
    12) Before Food Net is expanded, how about the CDC completing the currently outstanding annual reports on the system (i.e., 2006, 2007, 2008). Then, it could use the existing Food Net data representing 46% of the country to make a peer reviewed revision to its 1999 study of the incidence and impact of foodborne illness. Of course, outsiders would be able to do this were the data reasonably available for use by everyone not just those favored by the CDC. I can’t access its foodborne illness data in any meaningful way.
    13) I believe some of this is already being done. On the other side, it would be nice if the Consumers Union were to discontinue its practice of doing statistically INSIGNIFICANT retail testing and sampling (e.g., it’s January 2010 report “How Safe Is that Chicken?”) and then denigrate as statistically insignificant good results while declaring that the entire study shows…
    15) The FDA has nothing do with the use of the word “organic.” Its use is ENTIRELY controlled by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service as authorized by the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937. The National Organic Program is entirely under the control of the AMS.
    16) I find this one particularly ironic considering the role that Michael Taylor played in blocking good labeling and the food safety advocates’ lauding his appointments at the FDA.
    18) Explain to me where you are drawing this line between freedom of choice and protecting the public health. This seems to say it’s OK if I have the money and opportunity to provide raw milk for myself but not OK for someone else to sell it to me when it could be done under clearly safer circumstances than I could do it myself.
    19) I certainly agree that we need greater speed and transparency but this opens up the real possibility of demagoguery that could result in panic and horrendous impacts against producers who have no connection to the outbreaks. This occurred in the false 2008 Salmonella St. Paul scare on tomatoes. As Sen. Hagen of NC pointed out, one modest sized, third generation, family farm in NC lost $750,000 and was almost put out of business despite having no possible connection to what was occurring. This was due to abysmal work by the CDC and FDA.
    22) Use of the term “under-cooked” shows how industrial meat producers and food safety academicians have manipulated the discussion by re-framing it using misleading language. “Under-cooked” is understood quite differently than “rare” and “medium rare.” Using that language shifts the responsibility from the producer to the preparer. How about a resolution Food Safety News to not ever use the term “under-cooked” again in reporting what has happened and to call those who use the description in commenting on what has occurred. I would call that good journalism.
    As someone who, along with my wife, has invested over 14 years of my life and much of my wealth (made elsewhere) to expanding the availability of local, healthy food for local people, the top 3 resolutions I would like are as follows:
    #1 – That we re-frame the issue from “safe food” to “healthy food.” “Safe” food is NOT enough and has no context. Soylent Green was “safe” food but it surely wasn’t “healthy.” It is impossible to discuss healthy food out of the context in which it was grown, processed, distributed, prepared and consumed. For those interested in supporting this change and are committed to healthy food for all Americans, please write me at healthyfoodcoalition@gmail.com.
    #2 – That those favoring legislative change would strive to win their “reforms” and “modernization” via careful consideration of the merits of their proposals rather than via the use of the suffering of injured people to inflame emotional support. When I was a young boy in the 1950’s, a friend died from burns when her bathrobe was ignited by the open flame of a gas space heater. I remember praying passionately for her to be healed during the 10 or so days she fought to survive. I remember the local support of the push for mandatory flame retardant fabrics that resulted in the widespread use of tris phospate. Later, on 4-7-77, tris was banned by the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (see http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml77/77030.html). As I recall, it was later estimated that many times more people were injured and died from cancers created by the tris-treated, flame retardant clothing than ever from the flames they controlled. S 510 & HR 2749 mandate similarly uniform, nationwide change. Will the “cure” actually work? I don’t believe so.
    #3 – That the advocates for of all these resolutions make the substantial effort necessary to more fully understand the reality of our situation and the impact of their proposals. They could start by asking for input from people like me who are impacted by their resolutions. Maybe, then I could get back to growing healthy food instead of having to put everything on hold to take the 2+ hours necessary for me to write comments like these.