Food Safety Working Group created by President Obama in March on
Tuesday announced recommendations that include new standards to
reduce salmonella in poultry and increased E. coli sampling in beef
products, among other actions.
The recommendations are centered around three core food safety
principles, the group said:
- Preventing harm to
consumers is our first priority.
- Effective food safety
inspections and enforcement depend upon good data and
- Outbreaks of
foodborne illness should be identified quickly and stopped.
coli and salmonella prevention
By the end of July, the group stated in a report, USDA's Food
Safety and Inspection Service will issue improved instructions to
its workforce on how to verify that establishments that handle beef
are acting to reduce the presence of E. coli. Also by the end of
July, FSIS will increase its sampling to find this pathogen,
focusing largely on the components that go into making ground beef,
the group said.
By the end of the year, FSIS will develop new standards to reduce
the prevalence of salmonella in poultry. The agency will also
establish a salmonella verification program with the goal of having
90 percent of poultry establishments meeting the new standards by
the end of 2010.
Illness traceback and response
The Food Safety Working Group also announced several actions aimed
at managing foodborne illness outbreaks more effectively and
sharing information in an emergency. These actions include:
- Within three months,
FDA will issue draft guidance on steps the food industry can
take to establish product tracing systems to improve national
capacity for detecting the origins of foodborne illness.
- Within three months,
federal agencies will implement a new incident command system
to address outbreaks of foodborne illness.
- Within six to 12
months, FSIS will improve collaboration with states by
increasing the capacity of its public health epidemiology
liaison program to state public health departments through
additional hires and expanded outreach.
- CDC will work with
states to evaluate and optimize best practices for aggressive
and rapid outbreak investigation, and will launch a new system
to facilitate information-sharing and adoption of best
practices within 12 months.
- The federal
government will enhance foodsafety.gov
to better communicate information to the public and include an
improved individual alert system allowing consumers to receive
food safety information, such as notification of recalls.
Agencies will also use social media to expand public
communications. The first stage of this process will be
completed in 90 days.
positions at FSIS and FDA
The group also announced that within the next three months, USDA
will create a new position, chief medical officer, at FSIS. This
position, which will report to the under secretary for food safety,
is designed to enhance USDA's commitment to preventing foodborne
This month FDA will create a new position, deputy commissioner for
foods, to oversee and coordinate its efforts on food, including
food safety. This position will be empowered to restructure and revitalize
FDA's activities and work with FSIS and other agencies in
developing a new food safety system.
To read the group's full report, click
To learn more about the Food Safety Working Group and provide