We are now seeing huge gaps in the food safety net. We also see the effect of the serious pathogens like E coli that have become entrenched in our food animals, thus in our food supply, and in our environment. The failure of agriculture to control E. coli has contaminated the entire food supply, our water and soil.
These events will continue and escalate due to our inability to create a nationwide food safety system form farm to fork and the propensity of these pathogens to proliferate. Glaring deficiencies exist; most notably, flaws in basic sanitation and related practices found at the farm, in restaurants, and in the transportation sector are going without effective controls. These correctable conditions if left uncorrected allow for the persistence of deadly infectious agents in food.
While we as an industry concentrate our prevention efforts in the supply chain, remember that not addressing the starting and ending points of this chain thwarts all other purposes.
A comprehensive approach to the problem must involve a strong response by FDA to both on farm and consumer safety. Without adequate resources, FDA cannot do this job. Without industry support for proper funding the Food Safety Modernization Act will fail. This Act crafted by industry working alongside government addresses concerns in the food supply in the most comprehensive approach yet attempted,
A double standard is evident in the lack of industry support for FDA and FSMA. This is clearly seen in a letter to congress from the American Meat Institute and its signatories.
As long as powerful political interests put political power and influence over public health, food safety in this country will continue to deteriorate. The effect on industry has already been devastating for certain groups, especially for growers of tomatoes, spinach, peanuts; and now the entire melon industry is tainted with the problem of Listeria monocytogenes in cantaloupes.
The many millions of dollars defending lawsuits and untold millions lost in sales, as well as the loss of confidence of the American consumer, and the huge burden for those with resulting health care costs are compelling reasons for industry to support FDA.
Industry paying its fair share is something we should expect. Just "not wanting to pay" to ensure that there is a strong regulatory framework for food safety is not acceptable.