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The Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama administration has proposed a toughening of the nation’s food safety standards, announcing “a series of steps aimed at reducing outbreaks of salmonella, E. coli and other pathogens … The panel's recommendations represent a shift in food regulation to prevention from reacting to outbreaks of food-borne illnesses … By the end of this year, the government will also develop new standards to reduce salmonella contamination in turkey and chicken.”

In addition, the Journal writes, “the Food and Drug Administration later this month will issue draft guidance on how to reduce E. coli contamination in leafy greens, tomatoes and melons. The guidance eventually will become mandatory measures the industry must follow. In addition, the agency will develop guidelines on how the food industry can help the government track contaminated products.”

Both the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the United Fresh Produce Association said that they supported the efforts by the White House.

“Today’s White House announcement demonstrates how the government and the food industry can work together to make meaningful and practical food safety improvements,” said Tom Stenzel, United’s president/CEO at United.

“We are pleased that the White House will focus on prevention, rapid response and increased and improved communications as this is what will be the essential factors for ensuring food safety,” said Leslie Sarasin, president/CEO of FMI. “We look forward to working with FDA and USDA to implement the forthcoming White House standards for a national traceback system.”
KC's View:
It is about time. There are, of course, no guarantees that any of this will work. But it strikes me as the right direction for the government to take as it tries to get the nation’s burgeoning food safety issues under control.