and Drug Administration should give its food safety arm structural
status similar to that USDA gives its Food Safety and Inspection
Service, Carol Tucker-Foreman told the House Agriculture Committee.
At a food safety hearing last week, Tucker-Foreman, distinguished
fellow at Consumer Federation of America's Food Policy Institute, said
the lack of adequate food safety systems has become an emergency that
Congress must address by enacting new laws that require the FDA to
prevent foodborne illness rather than react to it.
Tucker-Foreman urged Congress to give FDA a separate organizational
entity within HHS. She suggested Congress take a look at FSIS to see
how important that separate organizational structure and institutional
leadership can be.
"The position of Under Secretary for Food Safety is the highest
ranking food safety officer in government," she said, adding that
while FSIS still has its problems, it deserves more respect that it
"I've come to think of the Food Safety and Inspection Service of
the USDA as the Rodney Dangerfield of food safety," Tucker-Forman
said. "It gets no respect despite having made major strides in the
last 15 years to improve its food safety efforts."
She went on to say, "The agency is still burdened by operating
under a seriously outmoded statute which does not give it authority to
enforce its HACCP system effectively and lacks a trained staff of
scientists and statisticians who can develop a risk-based inspection
program. Adequate funding for inspectors is also critical so that the
agency can meet its statutory obligation to maintain a federal presence
in every plant every day."