Food Safety News: No More Screening For E.Coli? by Dana Angelo White in Food Safety, July 13, 2011
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Global food-borne illness outbreaks have been on the rise in recent years. So why is the U.S. considering putting an end to screening foods to make sure they’re free of some of the deadliest bacteria?
In The News
The LA Times reports the House of Representatives passed a bill last month to do away with funding for a 10-year old program that screens commonly contaminated produce for the presence of harmful bacteria. Now it’s on to the Senate.
This program has lead to nearly 20 food recalls over the last 2 years. Budget restraints and complaints of “unnecessary recalls” are being blamed for the possible reallocation of funds.
Of course, there are two sides to every story. Large producers and transporters of produce argue that the Microbiological Data Program has been overstepping its bounds of testing and data collection and that similar programs are already in place. Those on the other side of the fence like Ken Cook from the Environmental Working Group states that we’re better safe than sorry to have multiple entities continually check produce for potentially sickening and deadly bacteria.
With so much food available, it’s nearly impossible to get all produce properly tested. Having multiple groups helps cover more ground. These types of government testing methods are certainly not perfect but in a global food market, chances of contamination are that much higher because food travels such great distances and changes hands many times throughout the process.
Tell Us: Do you think it makes sense to have less food-safety screening?
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »