I found this file photo while perusing the latest headlines on food safety. I’d like to report that it was taken today, signaling some top line action on food safety, even if just pressure brought to bear on members of congress, but it’s not. It’s from November 2009. The caption under the photo, re-released today, bears repeating:
"One of President Obama’s first initiatives was to improve the safety of America’s food supply. The Senate has yet to pass the much-touted Food Safety bill and consumer activists say the status-quo hasn’t changed in most food safety agencies."
In fact, in the age of Obama, other than an encouraging summer for the relative lack of E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks, food safety hasn’t improved much . . . from a regulatory or industry standpoint. The Food Safety Modernization Act has been pronounced dead, is then rescucitated, and then pronounced dead again so many times that I can’t even remember which phase of life or death it is in this week. And from an industry perspective, 2010 has seen two of the biggest food recalls in the history of mankind–eggs and HVP (though fortunately there were no illnesses linked to the HVP recall).
One promising thing to report, however: thanks to Dr. Elizabeth Hagen, Undersecretary for Food Safety at USDA-FSIS, we may see non-O157 shiga-toxin producing strains of E. coli declared adulterants in the meat supply, joining their much more famous cousin E. coli O157:H7. Even this measure would be just a small step for mankind, but in the safest food supply in the world, small steps are all we seem to get.