Access to a safe food supply needed

by Editor
Thursday, May 28, 2009

The new FDA Commissioner and her deputy wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine the U.S. should expect a “modern food-safety system focused on prevention of contamination.”

Margaret Hamburg, new Food and Drug Administration Commissioner, and her deputy, Joshua Sharfstein, have pledged to restore the FDA’s credibility. One priority is to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to improve food safety.

They wrote that the recent Salmonella outbreak linked to contaminated peanut butter represented far more than a sanitation problem at one troubled facility. It reflected a failure of the FDA and its regulatory partners to identify risk and to establish and enforce basic preventive controls. And it exposed the failure of scores of food manufacturers to adequately monitor the safety of ingredients purchased from this facility.

They continued that establishing the FDA as a public health agency would require a culture that encourages scientific exchange and respects alternative viewpoints along the path of decision making. Transparency would be a potent element of a successful strategy of the FDA, i.e. it should provide the data decisions are based on, and explain its decision-making process to the public.