Group takes new look at food safety

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WASHINGTON — Vice President Biden, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announce suggestions for upgrading the food safety system.

Food safety. Created by President Barack Obama in March to advise the administration on how to upgrade the food safety system for the 21st century, the working group is recommending a new, public health-focused approach to food safety based on three core principles: prioritizing prevention; strengthening surveillance and enforcement; and improving response and recovery.

Steps announced. The working group recently announced specific steps designed to advance its core principles

HHS and USDA are targeting salmonella contamination by developing tougher standards to protect the safety of eggs, poultry, and turkey.

To fight the threat of E. coli, USDA is stepping up enforcement in beef facilities and the Food and Drug Administration is developing new industry guidance improving protections for leafy greens, melons, and tomatoes.

The Obama administrationis building a new national traceback and response system including clearer industry guidance, a new unified incident command system, and improved use of technology to deliver individual food safety alerts to consumers.

Finally, the Administration announced a plan to strengthen the organization of federal food safety functions, including the creation of new positions at key food safety agencies and a continuing oversight role for the Food Safety Working Group.

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