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Policy group says FDA needs single food safety chief

March 26, 2009
by Robert Roos
CIDRAP News - Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy

A public health policy group today urged the government to put one person in charge of all food safety efforts at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a first step toward preventing the kinds of foodborne disease outbreaks that have plagued the nation in recent years.

For one of the next steps, the nonpartisan Trust for America's Health (TFAH) said in a report released today, Congress should put the FDA's food safety programs in a proposed new "Food Safety Administration" (FSA) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), thus splitting the FDA into separate food and drug agencies.

The report also calls for increasing the FDA's food safety funding and giving it greater authority to require food companies to embrace sound prevention systems. In addition, it calls for a closer partnership between the FDA's food safety programs and the food safety epidemiology program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The report, "Keeping America's Food Safe: A Blueprint for Fixing the Food Safety System at the US Department of Health and Human Services," renews and amplifies recommendations that TFAH made in a report a year ago. (See Apr 30, 2008, CIDRAP News story.) The new report was prepared in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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