APHL at White House: Obama’s Food Safety Working Group Adopts Public Health Approach

by Scott Becker, APHL Executive Director

On July 7, 2009, I had the pleasure to attend a White House event for President Obama’s Food Safety Working Group. The event was hosted by Vice President Biden. He, along with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, announced the key findings of the Working Group, which are partially based on information gathered at a White House listening session at which APHL was ably represented by John Besser, Peter Kyriacopoulos, and Michael Smith. These recommendations take a public health-focused approach to food safety and emphasize three core ideas: prioritizing prevention; strengthening surveillance and enforcement; and improving response and recovery. To advance these key concepts, the working group announced specific actions including: developing tougher safety standards for eggs and poultry products to reduce Salmonella contamination; strengthening enforcement in beef facilities and improving protections for produce to reduce E.coli contamination; implementing new traceback and response systems when outbreaks do occur; providing improved safety alerts to consumers; creating new positions within the key food safety agencies; and allowing for a continued oversight role for the Food Safety Working Group. I’m looking forward to greater collaboration with FDA, given the terrific new leadership in place. Read more.

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