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The Des Moines Register’s Philip Brasher writes that food safety wasn’t high on President Obama’s list of things to worry about when he came to office, but he’s worrying now that salmonella-tainted peanut butter from Georgia has sickened more than 500 people across the country and may have contributed to a handful of deaths. Obama has promised a “complete review” of the Food and Drug Administration.
What he’ll find, Brasher writes, is an agency that lacks the staff or the authority to conduct many inspections, review a company’s testing records or even force a firm to recall bad food once it is discovered. With moms and dads across the country scared witless by the peanut butter problem — and PB sales dropping 25% — Brasher reports that Congress is ready to to revamp the country’s food inspection system.
Meanwhile, new USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has proposed that only one agency should be in charge of food inspections. The job is now split among a number of agencies. The Department of Agriculture runs the meat inspection agency.