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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Time for 2010 Food Safety Resolutions

Over at Food Safety News we have made lists of who has been naughty and nice in food safety for 2009.  We listed the top stories in food safety for 2009 and we guessed on what the top food safety issues for 2010 just might be.  Now, we are on to making 2010 food safety resolutions for others.  Here they are:

President Obama should resolve to nominate an Under Secretary for Food Safety at USDA who will make the mission of the Agency protecting public health above all else. This should happen in January.

The Senate should resolve to pass S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, with scale-appropriate regulation for local, sustainable agriculture that does not interfere with existing organic regulations. ‚Ä®

Congress should resolve to pass meaningful food safety legislation to also modernize USDA.

Congress should resolve to give FDA and USDA mandatory recall authority.

The U.S. Attorney’s office should resolve to criminally prosecute Stewart Parnell and all future food company executives who intentionally put the public safety at risk by selling contaminated food.

USDA should resolve to declare non-O157:H7 shiga toxin-producing E. coli and antibiotic-resistant Salmonella per se adulterants in ground beef under the Federal Meat Inspection Act.

USDA should resolve to enforce a true zero-tolerance policy for E. coli O157:H7 in all meat products immediately.

National restaurant chains, beef producers, and USDA should resolve to discontinue the use of ammonia-treated beef in hamburger products.

USDA should resolve to raise the quality of lunches provided through the National School Lunch Program above and beyond the quality of food provided at fast food restaurants.

All states should resolve to adopt the 2009 Model Food Code as a minimum standard immediately. 

Local and state health departments should resolve to improve their relationship with CDC on outbreak investigations. ‚Ä®

CDC should resolve to increase active surveillance of foodborne illness by expanding FoodNet from its current 10 states to all 50 states in January. ‚Ä®

FDA and USDA should resolve to implement statistically significant retail testing and sampling for pathogens in high-risk food items. ‚Ä®

FDA should resolve to require testing or other forms of certification to guarantee all imported foods meet or exceed US food safety standards, not just one percent. ‚Ä®

FDA should resolve to resist industry pressure to weaken and industrialize organic standards and so guarantee that when "organic" appears on food it means something significant.

FDA should resolve to increase and improve labeling for genetically modified foods, labeling all foods for genetic modification whether they are pre-made, sold at grocery stores, or restaurants, by the end of 2010.

The food industry should resolve to improve traceability in all areas. ‚Ä®

States should resolve to outlaw raw milk sales. Raw milk consumption should be limited to those people who own cows (not through cow-share agreements). ‚Ä®

CDC, FDA, and USDA should resolve to increase transparency in outbreak investigations and food recalls, posting what they know within 24 hours of when they know it as part of the Government Transparency Project and declassification protocols. ‚Ä®

USDA and FDA should resolve to prohibit health claims for food products unless there is proven, scientific support for the proposed claim. ‚Ä®

Food companies should resolve to write clear, scientifically supportable cooking instructions to appear on packing for potentially hazardous food products, like those containing raw meat or vegetables. ‚Ä®

Meat companies should resolve to be more explicit about the risks of consuming under-cooked meat and required cooking temperatures in the "safe-handling" instructions that currently appear on all meat products.

USDA should resolve to post online all inspection results (e.g., noncompliance records) for all meat plants it inspects, and create a searchable database that consumers can access online to review the inspection and test results of all meat plants by entering USDA establishment number.

Federal, state, and local governments and NGOs should resolve to foster a culture of food safety in the food industry and at home by providing training through middle and high school curricula.

Ambitious, certainly – necessary, absolutely.