In just the last week, there have been high-profile recalls of tomatoes due to salmonella, beef due to E. coli and chicken due to listeria.
Those recalls come on the heels of high-profile failures to keep tainted pet food, toothpaste, seafood and other products off the shelves, and the admission that most food goes untested before it is fed to Americans.
Now, the Food and Drug Administration has asked Congress to do something about it, with an additional $275 million for food safety. Among other things, the money would be used to open offices in China, India and Central America. (The FDA is responsible for inspecting about 80% of the food supply, with the Department of Agriculture inspecting meats, dairy and certain other agricultural products; the FDA is also responsible for maintaining the safety of drugs.)
The problem? It follows more than a year of denying the agency needed more money to expand its mission. That, and no one is at all sure this is enough money to do the job adequately.
Criticism of the agency has come from all sides, including Congress and the Governmental Accountability Office, a nonpartisan research branch of the government.
Despite some positive first steps, U.S. oversight of food safety is still scattered among 15 agencies administering 30 different laws, the GAO warned in January.
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