U.S. Needs Canada-Style Food Regulator, Campbell’s Conant Says

Source of Article:  http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aoedNTim0..M

By Alan Bjerga

June 9 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. should abandon its two- regulator format for food and adopt a one-agency model like Canada’s, which would be more effective than product-label laws, Campbell Soup Co. Chief Executive Officer Doug Conant said.

Food-safety checks done by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency at Campbell Soup’s Toronto plant are more efficient than those conducted at the company’s six domestic plants by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, Conant said in prepared remarks scheduled to be delivered today at 7 p.m. at the Canadian Embassy in Washington. A copy of his speech was obtained by Bloomberg News.

“If the government of Canada can monitor the safety of its food products with one single food-inspection agency, why can’t the United States?” Conant said. “The structure and framework of food safety in Canada is something we can learn from as we look at the makeup and coordination of our own food safety agencies.”

The two U.S. agencies have differing levels of funding and responsibility, and each has a separate system for monitoring food safety, said Conant, who runs the world’s largest soupmaker. The FDA regulates about 80 percent of the domestic food supply, while the USDA reviews the safety of about 20 percent of the food supply, including meats, he said.

Lawmakers are currently considering several food-safety proposals, with a goal of passing a comprehensive measure this year. President Barack Obama’s budget proposal would provide a 19 percent spending increase for the FDA, including $259 million more for food-safety, while boosting funding for the USDA’s inspection programs by 7.2 percent to $992 million, according to figures from the White House.

About 76 million people in the U.S. are sickened by food- borne illness each year and 5,000 die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Campbell, based in Camden, New Jersey, rose 4 cents to $28.95 a share at 4:15 p.m. today on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares have fallen 3.5 percent this year.

 

 

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