Salmonella outbreak could prompt Congress to broaden HACCP at FDA


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Sally Schuff

The salmonella outbreak that has sickened 550 people and may have contributed to eight deaths caused by peanut ingredients from a plant in Georgia may spur Congress to action on reforms of the Food and Drug Administration food safety system.

Following a hearing on the outbreak today, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin said he may seek three actions to bolster FDA's system. While he said he had not planned on a major food safety reform bill this year, Harkin said he was now "pretty well convinced" that a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point system, similar to that used for meat and poultry inspection by USDA, should be extended to foods under the jurisdiction of FDA. Currently HACCP systems are only in place for FDA inspected juice and seafood, he noted. Following today's testimony on the inspection flaws that allowed the salmonella contamination of peanut butter and peanut paste processed at the Peanut Corporation of America in Georgia, Harkin pointed to the need for tighter government oversight of food safety processes.

Harkin also predicted he could take up legislation aimed at improving information sharing between federal, state, and local public health agencies on foodborne illness and legislation that would require food processing plants that ship food products in interstate commerce to report positive test results for foodborne pathogens to the FDA.


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