DeLauro Tells FDA, Plan, Keep Food Safe

Rep. Rosa DeLauro doesn’t want you to worry about your hot dog making you hurl or your squash making you sick to your stomach.

What she does want is for the Food and Drug Administration to have a plan to keep our food safe.

Acting Commissioner Dr. Joshua Sharfstein Thursday walked lawmakers through a 2010 budget proposal.

"A lot sounds to me like buzzwords from a past administration," Connecticut’s Democratic Congresswoman told the FDA's new acting commissioner at a hearing.

DeLauro’s after the FDA over debacles over food issues, like the major outbreak of salmonella in peanut products that are blamed for killing at least nine people and sickening hundreds of others.

The FDA proposal includes spending more money and new industry user fees that would pay for more food safety inspections. But DeLauro felt it was short on specifics.

"A real change, a real change from the past would be a plan on food safety that identified the foods at greatest risk," DeLauro said. She also called for new performance standards, sampling to detect contamination and requirements for industry to report when problems were found.

Here’s what Sharfstein said. The FDA needs a new food safety system based on prevention, one that includes performance standards when they are appropriate.

A Food Safety Working Group that President Barack Obama appointed will soon have proposals that should answer many of DeLauro's demands, Sharfstein told reporters.

"The credibility of FDA is absolutely critical," Sharfstein agreed at one point.

Them there’s the issue of imports from China and other countries, including the international recall last winter after a blood-thinner called heparin from China was found to be contaminated.

Sharfstein said her folks would explore so-called "equivalency" agreements with other countries that would establish that inspections done elsewhere meet U.S. standards.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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