Long overdue, after 8 years of disabling our protective agencies. Finally some protection against food poisoning.
The Obama administration took its first step yesterday toward overhauling food safety regulations that have been blamed for a steady stream of food recalls and related illnesses.
“There are few responsibilities more basic or more important for the government than making sure the food our families eat is safe,” Vice President Biden said at a White House news conference, where he was joined by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “American families have enough to worry about today. They should not have [food safety] as a concern.”
Fears about food safety have been spurred by outbreaks of salmonella and E. coli illness from products as varied as peanuts, spinach, tomatoes, pistachios, peppers and, most recently, cookie dough.
The administration outlined a variety of measures yesterday to prevent the spread of salmonella, a bacterium that causes more than 1 million illnesses each year in the United States.
Among them is a final rule, issued by the FDA, to reduce the contamination in eggs. About 142,000 Americans are infected each year with Salmonella enteritidis from eggs, the result of an infected hen passing along the bacterium. About 30 die.
The new requirements will cost producers about $81 million a year, and add about 1 cent to the cost of a dozen eggs, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said. Sebelius said it will save the nation about $1.4 billion a year in medical expenses.