Live blogging the House's food safety hearing
Hello from the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture That I Have Never Heard Of Until Now.
I've threatened to live blog before and today I have finally procured a laptop and an air card.
The point of this gathering today--and there is a second one tomorrow--is ostensibly to talk about the problems with tracing produce through the distribution chain in case of an outbreak or terrorist attack on the food supply.
The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control honchos have said the difficulty tracing tomatoes slowed the Salmonella saintpaul investigation.
Other food safety experts say traceability is just one of many problems. I wrote today about another one: local and state health departments have uneven capacity to deal with foodborne illness detection and investigations. It explains how that affects all of us during a multi state outbreak such as the current current tomato/pepper situation.
The hearing has finally started and Subcommittee Chairman Dennis Cardoza is getting right down to business. "I'd just like to hear what went wrong," he said.
The first panel consists entirely of other members of Congress.
On deck now is Rep. Adam Putnam (D-Fla.) who has come up with the "Safe Food Enforcement, Assessment, Standards and Targeting Act," or the "Safe FEAST Act."
If you think that is clever, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) has not one, but two bills with titles that spell out food safety-related words. There's the the Safe And Fair Enforcement and Recall (SAFER) Meat, Poultry, and Food Act of 2007. And the Tracing and Recalling Agricultural Contamination Everywhere (TRACE) Act.
I bet a lot of hours were spent around the white board to come up with those.
Aw man, DeGette just brought up the Pizza Conundrum, a real chestnut of food safety criticism. (The FDA oversees frozen pizzas but not ones with lots of meat on them, which fall to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.) I think some eyeballs just rolled over at FDA and USDA.
They're done talking.
"Your testimony was as enlightening as I thought it would be," Cardoza said.
Hmm. What would he have said if it wasn't?
By Annys Shin |
July 30, 2008; 2:22 PM ET
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