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CU Calls for Greater Funds, Oversight to Protect Nation’s Food Supply

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Consumers Union Calls for Greater Funds, Oversight to Protect Nation’s Food Supply

Washington, DC—Consumers Union is calling for greater oversight and more funds for the US Food and Drug Administration in response to the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations’ hearing on the FDA’s capacity to protect the nation’s food supply.
“The FDA has been starved of resources for years. The result is a food system that is not dependable and an agency not adequately protecting our nation’s food supply. Not even our pets are safe,” Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives for Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine.
FDA on average inspects food processing facilities at a rate of once every ten years, according to estimates. It inspects only 1.3 percent of the food entering the country from abroad. “It is not surprising that we are seeing contamination problems in spinach, peanut butter, and pet food—and these are just the problems we are catching. Until we take the safety of our food seriously, we will never know what other dangers might be lurking in our food,” said Sally Greenberg, Senior Counsel at Consumers Union.
A national survey released by Rutgers University’s Food Policy Institute suggests that last fall’s spinach recall could have lasting effects on consumers’ consumption of spinach and other vegetables. The survey of consumers described a lack of confidence in the nation’s food supply and concerns that government agencies have failed to safeguard the nation’s food supply.
“Consumers expect the food they buy and consume is safe. Government must use its standard-setting, investigative and enforcement powers to see that this expectation is fulfilled,” said Greenberg.
Consumers Union has recommended several food safety improvements including mandatory regulations on produce production that includes, yearly FDA inspections at a minimum, increased funding for FDA, stiffer enforcement penalties and the creation of a single food agency to ensure adequate, efficient, and effective oversight of our nation’s food supply.

Jennifer Fuson, 202-462-6262
Sally Greenberg, 202-631-2301