Today, the recommendations of an advisory committee which was formed to assess the safety of the nation’s food supply will issue a report to President Bush and Congress.  An article that appeared last night on the New York Times website provided some insight into the reasons behind the formation of the committee and what will be included in the report:

food safety reportNeither the FDA nor the USDA had the authority to order ConAgra to recall the products. In fact, all food recalls, except for those involving infant formula, are voluntary. Often, the government gets a product recalled by warning the company it could face bad publicity if it does not withdraw the food.

An advisory committee created in response to concerns about recalls of imported products — including dog food and toothpaste — will suggest changing that.

The commission, created in July in response to concerns about recalls of imported items, will recommend to President Bush that the FDA be empowered to order recalls of products deemed a risk to consumers, an administration official said Monday. Congress would have to approve such a step.

Here is what critics who were interviewed had to say of the food supply as it is: 

”FDA’s food program is very small compared to its task.”  — William Hubbard, a top FDA official for 14 years.

”I think the food industry has a very long history of not doing anything on food safety unless it has to.”  — Marion Nestle, a New York University professor who wrote a book on food safety.

Bill Marler, another food industry critic, recently wrote in Food Safety Magazine:

Ultimately, dedication to food safety must go beyond the company’s HACCP programs in terms of compliance, implementation, testing and auditing. This commitment starts at the top of the organization with the CEO, president and senior management team. Managing the business in a way that pays more than lip service to food safety will produce high-quality, profitable products that don’t make people sick, and is essential to the continued health of your bottom line and the health of your consumers.