The Obama administration has ordered tougher steps to curb Salmonella and E.coli contamination in U.S. food processing plants and has created a new post of deputy food commissioner within the Food and Drug Administration to coordinate safety, reports Reuters.
The administration is concerned by delays in identifying the source of the peanut-based Salmonella contamination, has moved to develop a better tracing system for identifying the origin of foodborne illnesses. Those actions came out of the Food Safety Working Group that President Barack Obama created in March after a Salmonella outbreak in peanut products forced the largest food recall in U.S. history.
"The Working Group is recommending a new public-health-focused approach to food safety based on three core principles: prioritizing prevention, strengthening surveillance and enforcement, and improving response and recovery," according to a White House statement.
Groups briefed on the recommendations have praised the plan for prioritizing prevention. Donna Rosenbaum of Safe Tables Our Priority called it "a large step in the right direction."
Food-safety overhaul legislation passed a U.S. House panel last month. A similar bill has since been introduced in the Senate. These newest steps taken by the administration anticipate passage of the pending legislation. This new FDA post will increase coordination of federal food safety measures. "Giving one person within FDA, the deputy commissioner of foods, the power to oversee all food safety activities, including science and inspections, will significantly improve the agency's ability to target the most significant sources of contamination," said Scott Faber, with the Grocery Manufacturers Association.