A handful of federal agencies are currently responsible for food safety in the United States. However, the Bush Administration is now re-emphasizing the need for a single food-safety agency to oversee inspection of meat, poultry, seafood, vegetables, and processed foods, according to a Reuters' news report.

Democrats such as Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and various consumer activist groups are working toward that goal.

Much of the U.S. meat industry opposes the idea. Previously proposed to the Clinton Administration, it was rejected because it was considered an unwieldy idea. However, last week Tom Ridge, the White House director of Homeland Security, said "we ought to at least take a look" at merging the food-safety agencies.

“We need to consider whether we want to have multiple organizations basically tasked with the same responsibility, or if we couldn't enhance our security, improve our efficiency and maybe save a few bucks if we merged functions," Ridge told Reuters.

Reuters News Service