Report: U.S. food safety system flawed

Two groups recommended expanded food inspections.
Two groups recommended expanded food inspections.
A new report released Wednesday by two nonprofit groups called for immediate reforms to the country’s food safety regulatory system.

With the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control all responsible for different aspects of food safety, the report calls the country’s method for monitoring the food supply “fragmented and antiquated.”

"Our food safety system is plagued with problems, and it's leading to millions of Americans becoming needlessly sick each year," said Jeff Levi, director of the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), one of the issuers of the report. "The system is outdated and unable to effectively deal with today's threats.”

The report recommends immediate consolidation of food safety leadership within the FDA and the creation of a separate Food Safety Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services.

Food safety concerns have been highlighted by 2009 Salmonella outbreak in peanut butter and peanut butter products. Other food safety concerns have arisen over melamine-contaminated infant formula and related diary products in China.

The FDA currently has no full-time official whose job is to oversee food safety, although the FDA regulates 80 percent of all food products, the report said. Other flaws in the food safety network include inadequate inspections and inadequate staffing and resources, the report said.