Cuts in Public Health Preparedness Could Hurt Food Industry

And further shake consumer confidence in food safety

January 18, 2012
by Dr. David Acheson, former FDA Associate Commission for Foods
Food Safety News


Although preparedness for public health emergencies had been on an upward climb in the U.S. over the last decade, some of our most elementary capabilities are experiencing cuts in every state across the country. This includes the ability to identify and contain outbreaks, provide vaccines and medications during emergencies, and treat people during mass traumas.

So says the ninth annual, "Ready or Not 2011: Protecting The Public's Health From Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism," issued by Trust for America's Health, a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to preventing epidemics to protect people, and Robert Wood Foundation, devoted to improving American's health and health care.

While this may appear like less oversight and regulatory presence for the food industry and, thus, a blessing in disguise, the overall consequences for the industry are not good. The general finding of the report is that federal and state budget cuts have put public health preparedness at risk. Although the focus is on general health initiatives, the relevance to preparedness and response in potential foodborne outbreaks or bioterrorist threats to the food chain can't be ignored.

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