Thursday, February 05 2009, 10:00am – 12:00pm

Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry

Examination of Federal Food Safety Oversight in the Wake of Peanut Products Recall

Date: Thursday, February 5, 2009

Time: 10:00 a.m.

Place: 216 Hart Senate Office Building

Panel I

Dr. Stephen Sundlof
Director, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for
Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Rockville, MD

Rear Admiral Ali S. Khan
Assistant Surgeon General and Deputy Director of the National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-borne, and Enteric Diseases, Center for Disease Control
Atlanta, GA

Panel II

Ms. Gabrielle Meunier
Mother of affected child
South Burlington, VT

Ms. Caroline Smith DeWaal
Program on Food Safety, Center for Science
in the Public Interest
Washington, DC

Mr. William Hubbard
Former Senior Associate Commissioner for
Policy, Planning and Legislation, Food and Drug Administration
Chapel Hill, NC

  • Bix

    William Hubbard. Shucks. I missed this.
    I’m sorry to go off on a tangent, but I have a few quotes of Hubbard’s that I think will add some flavor. (It’s okay if it doesn’t make the bar for posting.)
    The following are from an interview Hubbard did with PBS NewsHour in June 2007. It was about imported food. But the last bit gives an idea of how those on the inside view food safety in America.
    Hubbard served, as you said, as Associate Commissioner of FDA for 14 years, retiring in 2005.
    WILLIAM HUBBARD: Well for example, here’s a cereal that has small freeze-dried strawberries in it. They almost always come from China.
    PBS’ BETTY ANN BOWSER: The strawberries do?
    WH: The strawberries do. And FDA has found some contamination issues with those strawberries. The cereal of course, the final product is made here in the United States, but it uses foreign ingredients.
    BB: So they make the cereal here, but the strawberries in the cereal come from China.
    WH: That’s correct. But the FDA finds tremendous problems from Asian countries in what they call filth.
    WH: Well, let’s look at, this is apple juice. Now, you think apple juice is as American as apple pie. But in fact, much of our apple juice comes from China. And what FDA has been finding is they would water down the apple juice, add a chemical called inulin.
    BB: The Chinese?
    WH: Yeah, and inulin would make it taste just like real apple juice and even FDA’s own labs were having trouble finding a chemical in there. It was really an economic fraud to water down real apple juice and only use a small amount of real apple juice. And that was a very common problem and goes on today.
    BB: Wait a minute. Let’s see what this label says.
    WH: You won’t see anything on it. It just says apple juice.
    BB: It says 100 percent juice from concentrate.
    WH: Well they lie.
    BB: I hate to ask this question, but I have to because it’s part of my job. If bad guys wanted to poison, people always worry about the food, about the food system in America being subject to terrorists. I mean if terrorists really wanted to, how easy would it be for bad guys to make hundreds of thousands of people sick?
    WH: Well on his last day in office, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson, said he worried about the food supply from imported food because he thought it was too darned easy to do just that.
    BB: What do you think as a former FDA employee?
    WH: I’d rather not say.
    BB: Do you have concerns about it?
    WH: Secretary Thompson was echoing concerns among many knowledgeable food safety officials.
    BB: Okay, so you wouldn’t disagree with him?
    WH: I wouldn’t disagree with Secretary Thompson.