In his weekly address in mid-March, President Barack Obama announced several measures toward improving food safety in the U.S.
Food Safety Working Group
Firstly he announced the creation of a Food Safety Working Group, which will be made up of secretaries of health and agriculture.
It will advise the President on improving coordination throughout the government, examining and upgrading laws and regulations, and enforcing laws.
The President also announced that he would nominate Dr. Margaret Hamburg to be commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and appoint Dr. Joshua Sharfstein to become the FDA’s principal deputy commissioner.
The FDA is also scheduled to receive US$1 billion in new funds for modern testing labs and additional food safety inspectors.
Downer cattle ban
The President also announced that downer cattle or those that cannot walk will be banned from slaughter. In the past cattle that passed a pre-slaughter inspection and then became injured could be sold into the food system if an inspector certified the meat as safe.
Earlier in the month a bipartisan group of lawmakers in Congress proposed changes to the country’s food safety system.
Their bill calls for increased inspections of food-processing plants and would require every plant to have a food-hazard prevention plan subject to federal review.
Inspectors would also gain expanded, though not unlimited, access to company test results for salmonella and other pathogens.
In his address, President Obama made it clear that he supported the bill and might also expand it.