Election day is finally here. At Food Safety News, we aren’t making any predictions about the outcome of the presidential election — with key swing states in flux and a statistical dead heat nationwide, we think it’s a tossup, with the president holding a slight advantage. But we did want to remind our readers that both candidates recently went on the record regarding food safety.
In a United Fresh Produce Association questionnaire released in Sept., both Romney and Obama responded to this question:
“With greater regulatory oversight, and greater investment by the industry into food safety for fresh produce, how can your administration ensure that food safety events (detections, outbreaks, recalls) are conducted in a way that protects public health without imposing crippling costs and liabilities on produce industry companies? Do you believe that food safety programs that are mandated by federal regulations are of benefit to the general public, and therefore should be funded largely by the federal government?”
Here’s Obama’s response:
When I took office, our food safety system needed to be updated – 1 in 4 people were getting sick every year due to food-borne illness, and children and the elderly were more at risk. Each year, foodborne illness affected 48 million Americans, hospitalizing a hundred thousand and killing thousands.
Within my first 100 days in office, I established a Food Safety Working Group to help look at how we can improve America’s food safety system. I also passed the most comprehensive reform of our nation’s food safety laws in decades – giving FDA the resources, authority and tools they need to make real improvements to our food safety system. We are looking for creative ways to coordinate with the food industry and take advantage of modern technology to achieve our food safety goals, including being able to rapidly and effectively trace contaminated foods. We are making it easier for farms of all sizes to reduce their own food safety risks by developing an online tool, which I encourage you to try. It is available at www.onfarmfoodsafety.org.
Effectively managing risk is important to all producers, and having an acceptable food safety program is in the best interest of consumers, buyers, and the farmers themselves. And I am committed to working to ensuring that food safety regulations do not place an unreasonable burden on the food industry.
Here’s Romney’s response:
Thankfully, American farmers and producers, specifically the produce industry, have a long history of taking responsibility for food safety. Preventive practices are the best tool to reduce the incidence of food-borne illnesses, provide more control over the potential risks of contamination, and are generally the most cost effective. Governor Romney believes preventative practices are best developed by growers, handlers, processors, and others in the supply chain with specific knowledge of the risks, diversity of operations in the industry, and feasibility of potential mitigation strategies. Governor Romney believes the FDA must collaborate with industry, in cooperation with state agencies and academia, to develop specific guidance for the commodities most often associated with food-borne illness outbreaks. A Romney Administration will prioritize this type of cooperation and collaboration with industry on the part of all agencies charged with protecting public health.
See Food Safety News tomorrow for coverage of the election and what it means for food policy — and don’t forget to vote!