EDITORIAL: Put our money where our mouth is on food safety

Source of Article:http://www.aurorasentinel.com/articles/2009/07/29/opinion/editorials/doc4a711467dd0f7551709012.txt

The Aurora Sentinel

Published: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 9:46 PM MDT

Americans are dying for a better system to ensure food safety. Really.

And it appears American lives will continue to be in peril with each trip to the grocery store since Congress on Wednesday narrowly failed to approve a measure that would require more government inspections and oversight of food manufacturers. In a procedural matter, members of the House needed a two-thirds majority to push through desperately needed changes, but failed by only a few votes to get the needed super-majority. The procedure would not have allowed for changes to the bill.

Despite the most recent food-illness outbreak, involving salmonella-tainted peanut products, naysaying congressmen didnít consider the matter important enough to fast-track badly needed changes. In short: no additional protection for American consumers.

Itís a story thatís gotten old.

Rather than supplying answers, Congress once again is handing out excuses as to why itís unable to ensure the safety of the countryís food supply even though eight people died and hundreds more were sickened by salmonella-contaminated peanut butter and other products.

Those who voted no say they need more time. Those sickened or killed by the lack of oversight would argue differently.

Before the latest scandal, itís been horror stories about spinach, tomatoes, peppers and juices. In addition, the country cringed repeatedly after being subjected to tales about lethal food, drugs and other products from China. Related to that were sickening stories about ill cattle being dragged into slaughterhouses to become hamburger fed to millions.

During the height of these revelations, the former Bush administration pointed out that the FDA has resources to inspect less than 1 percent of the food and drugs imported into this country, and that they had no intention of making much of a change in that.

Sadly, we have become a country that can say only ďbuyer beware.Ē

This isnít because of a shortage of competence by FDA officials. Itís a shortage of inspectors. Itís because we simply find that ensuring a safe food and drug supply isnít a priority.

FDA officials last week admitted that when it comes to domestic food inspections, the feds rely on states for well over half of all compliance checks. And anyone who reads this or any other newspaper lately well knows whatís happening to every state workforce in the country. This disrespect for Americaís food health means that we are all at the mercy of the good will of every food producer in the country.

That means American consumers must depend on luck every time they down to dinner. This bill must be a priority when Congress returns from itís month-long vacation. Americans will just have to hope their luck holds out until then.



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