Groups urge FDA changes to boost U.S. food safety

March 26, 2009
by Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Obama administration should appoint a senior food safety official within the Food and Drug Administration as a first step toward safeguarding the U.S. food supply, two advocacy groups said on Wednesday.

The responsibility for food safety currently is divided up among federal agencies including the FDA and U.S. Department of Agriculture, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention monitoring disease outbreaks.

A report by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation urged the appointment of a senior FDA official to take charge of food safety as an interim step toward fixing the much-criticized U.S. food safety system.

The groups said in the long run, the government needs a new agency within the Department of Health and Human Services whose sole task is regulating the food supply.

"Our food safety system is plagued with problems and is leading to millions of Americans becoming severely sick each year," Jeff Levi, executive director of the Trust for America's Health, told reporters during a conference call.

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