Thursday, March 01, 2007

Hearings in California on food safety

I just ran across this article at California Progress Report that includes the opening statement by Senator Dean Florez at the start of hearings by the Senate Select Committee on Food-Borne Illness.

You can watch a webcast of the hearing here.

I think a good case can be made for the government to take a stronger role in the regulation of food products. Especially with ready to eat produce that gets eaten without cooking like lettuce and spinich. The current regulatory system is fractured and toothless, jurisdictional lines are unclear, and the industry is largely self-regulating.

I think these recent food safety problems are in part a result of the anti-regulatory political environment we've experienced over the past 20-30 years, and here we see the results of this mind-set. In the last six months there have been:

• 199 sick in 26 States
• 102 Hospitalizations
• 5 Deaths

All from eating a salad.

I'm just glad to see that there's a Senate Select Committee on Food-Borne Illness now, and I hope they can provide some strong leadership on the issue. I had been planning on writing on this issue, and have a nice little pile of scribbled on notecards, but then life intervened and the notecards were stuck in the desk drawer. I should get back to that.

Regulation has become such a dirty word, but it's not nearly as dirty as having fecal matter in your spinich salad.



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