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Agriculture Committee Holds First in Series of Food Safety Hearings

Thursday, April 2, 2009

(American Meat Institute)

The House Agriculture Committee held its hearing today reviewing the food safety system. Those persons testifying included Elsa Murano, Ph.D., president of Texas A&M University and former undersecretary for food safety at the Department of Agriculture; Michael Taylor, J.D., research professor of health policy at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services and Chair of the Food Safety Consortium; Carol Tucker-Foreman of the Consumer Federation of America; as well as several industry representatives.

During her testimony, Dr. Murano discussed significant improvements made in recent years at the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) and expressed her opposition to the creation of a single food agency, stating that she believes such an agency would disturb the operations of FSIS at a time when there is a need to enhance, not disrupt, food safety.

“Before this alternative is considered, I would ask the committee to determine whether the formation of the Department of Homeland Security as a single agency right after 9-11 contributed to the problems encountered at FEMA in the handling of Hurricane Katrina, or whether transferring the import inspection from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Agency at USDA to the Department of Homeland Security has reduced the number of illegal items introduced into commerce,” Murano testified.

Taylor, too, testified that creation of a single-food agency at this juncture would be premature.

“I believe the creation of a single food safety agency is a worthy long-term goal, but consideration of that possibility should take a back seat to the immediate need and opportunity we have to improve the food safety programs of FDA and FSIS, where they sit today within HHS and USDA,” Taylor testified. “This includes improving the leadership and management structures through which they implement their food safety programs.”

To view the submitted testimonies of those participating in today’s hearing, click here: http://agriculture.house.gov/hearings/statements.html

 

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