Bad Beef An Opportunity For The ‘New’ FDA

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Once again tainted beef is in the news. Beef Packers, Inc., of Fresno has recalled 826,000 ground beef products that are possibly tainted with salmonella. There have been cases of salmonella reported in 11 states with Colorado the worst affected with over 21 cases through June and July. The ground beef was produced in June, 2009 and might have the establishment number “ET. 31913” printed on the case code labels.

But at the same time, the new chief of the FDA has promised to crack down on companies that break the law. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told an audience of food and drug company lawyers they should expect to see faster, tougher action against companies that don’t follow FDA regulations. Now, in this case it is not at all clear that the company in question broke the law – this could just be a case of being sloppy or bad luck. However, the continual, repeated cases of salmonella and bad beef products do suggest that the FDA could easily step in with more stringent controls or at least properly inspect and enforce existing laws. Take the recent peanut company case, for example. A perfect case for the FDA to be doing a better job of enforcement and inspection.

So, let’s hope the new FDA chief is going to follow up the talk with action.

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