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Report calls for new food safety oversight

March 26, 2009
by Mary MacVean
Los Angeles Times

Adding to the chorus seeking an overhaul of the nation's food safety system, a report issued Wednesday called on the Obama administration to put someone in charge of safeguarding the food supply and to create a Food Safety Administration.

The food safety system is "plagued with problems," said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health, which released the report in conjunction with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Calls for reform of the Food and Drug Administration have only become louder since the salmonella outbreak linked to peanut products late last year. Voluntary product recalls are still being announced; the outbreak has sickened nearly 700 people in 46 states and possibly caused nine deaths.

"We are way overdue for a makeover," said Michelle Larkin, director of the foundation's Public Health Team. "It costs us around $44 billion annually in medical care and lost productivity, so the stakes are really high."

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