Caroline Smith DeWaal is food safety director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit watchdog and consumer advocacy group.
This week, a mother called us about her child hospitalized with a Salmonella poisoning from his day care's chicken lunch. The child's condition was tenuous, with a blood infection, and treatment was especially challenging as the bacteria was antibiotic resistant.
The mom turned to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group, for information and help because key government's public health agencies and websites are shut down. Does this have an impact on food safety? You betcha!
Editor's note: Caroline Smith DeWaal is the director of food safety at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Ten years ago, President Bill Clinton pledged to eliminate the hazard of salmonella in eggs by 2010. But in 2010, instead of having eliminated the problem, the U.S. is experiencing an outbreak affecting thousands of people and the recall of half a billion eggs.
How can it be that an issue so important as to merit the president's attention can stop dead in its tracks? It is a tale of two agencies and congressional inaction.
Most people would probably think it absurd that one Cabinet agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, regulates chickens, while another, the Department of Health and Human Services' Food and Drug Administration, regulates chickens' eggs.
In a perfect world, we'd have all of the government's food safety functions nestled into one strong agency. But until then, the least we can do is give the Food and Drug Administration the resources and authority it needs to inspect the farms and factories that produce Americans' peanut butter, spinach, eggs and other foods it regulates.
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