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Can the Food Safety Bill Help the USDA’s Reputation?

With a number of food recalls over the past few years sending panic through the public, the House passed a bill aimed at food safety on Tuesday. In addition to being able to force food recalls, the FDA would increase farm and food company inspections as well as contamination prevention.

A statement issued by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the bill would give the federal government “improved tools to prevent foodborne illness” and noted that a prevention-0riented angle would be beneficial in addressing “challenges in the food safety system.”

Still, whether the bill would work seems to still be in question. A YumSugar post asked if the administration’s efforts toward food safety reform actually give people confidence “that it’ll change the staggering rate of foodborne illness in America,” or if the steps are “simply boondoggle.”

Des Moines Register story quotes an Iowa lawmaker as suggesting “there will be little if any money for the increased spending and staff” the bill authorizes. Time points to a fee included in the original House version of the bill passed last year that would have helped cover FDA costs, “but that was stripped out of the final version by the Senate,” according to the story.

“The recent outbreaks have exposed a lack of resources and authority at the FDA as the embattled agency struggled to trace and contain the contaminated products,” says a Huffington Post article. “The agency rarely inspects most food facilities and farms, visiting some every decade or so and others not at all.”

[Image via The Consumerist.]

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