Who's Keeping Our Food Safe?


IstockphotoFrom Health magazine

Do we have the right food-safety controls in place in the United States? One of the foremost experts on food handling, safety, and future trends, Marion Nestle, PhD, doesnt think so.

She points out that only a small portion of the nations food producers are required to follow rigorous Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) rules. Food products under HACCP are meat and poultry, regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and fresh juices and seafood, regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

But the rest of our food companies are only required to follow Good Manufacturing Practices, Nestle says: “How they do so is up to them. Im hoping that the Obama administration will create a new food-safety agency that combines the functions of the USDA and FDA and requires standard procedures like HACCP for all food producers, from farm to table.”

In the meantime, “We have a better food-contamination surveillance-and-monitoring system than we had a decade ago, and every year it keeps getting better,” says Michael Doyle, PhD, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health departments are identifying outbreaks quicker than before.” In fact, the FDA—under pressure to stop outbreaks before they start—has hired additional inspectors, scientists, and consumer safety officers.