The U.S. is making good progress on battling some types of food illnesses, but slow progress on other types. Gary Crawford has this report.
Some success and frustrations in preventing food related illnesses, this from a new report from the Centers for Disease Control. Big success, cutting e coli infections, Dr. Chris Braden with CDC told reporters that “e coli O:157 has decreased by 25% compared with the previous three years and has reached it’s lowest level since 2004.”
Why such a big reduction is just about a year’s time. Well, Dr. David Goldman with the Ag Department’s Food Safety and Inspection service says in USDA’s arena, which is meat inspection and safety, over the last year first ”we’ve expanded now, to include in our testing programs all components of raw ground beef, including testing for e coli, the trimmings from carcasses, which didn’t used to be tested. Also last summer, we issued to our employees, they were given specific instructions about how to verify if a plant was conducting it’s beef carcass process in a sanitary manner.”
So, we’ve had success with e coli, especially in meat, however officials are expressing continued frustrations in trying to cut cases of salmonella, the most widespread food related illness. Those bacterial infections only down 10% over the last 13 years. The CDC’s Chris Brader says that’s a reduction but…”it is furthest of any pathogens from the goals we have set for reduction.”
However, we may see a breakthrough soon in cutting salmonella problems, at least in eggs. Dr. Jeff Farrar with the Food and Drug Administration says that “we’ve recently developed new, preventive measures for the production of shell eggs to reduce the risk of salmonella and irradiative”. That is on eggs.
Meanwhile, we’ve seen some high profile bacterial contamination cases involving not meat or eggs but on fresh produce; lettuce, spinach peppers, peanuts. FDA’s working with the agriculture department on cutting contamination problems on fresh produce, not an easy thing to do. . Jeff Farrar says because of the diversity of crops, the diversity of growing, planting, harvesting practices, and the diverse scale of operations. But, we do know we need prevention and risk based standards to address the potential hazards that produce poses.” He also said that they’ve been meeting with the industry and growers of all types and sizes to come up with good guidance for growers that would give them things to do, and not to do that would cut down on contamination problems.
All of these efforts and more going on-pushed by a top-level food safety working group created by President Obama “to advise me on how we can upgrade our food safety laws for the 21st Century”. One of the group’s members, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, says the group is examining all aspects of our food safety system, our statutes, our regulations, our inter-agency coordination and steps we can pursue administratively.”
All toward the goal of making food even safer.