Food safety program to get a $43 million boost
January 24, 1997
Web posted at: 11:30 p.m. EST
In this story:
From Correspondent Eugenia Halsey
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Four children died and hundreds more
got sick from eating undercooked hamburgers infected with a
dangerous form of e. coli bacteria four years ago. Beginning
Saturday, the government is going to do something about it.
In his Saturday address, President Bill Clinton is expected
to announce plans to spend $43 million to ensure that food
inspectors learn high-tech procedures that will enable them
to do a better job of inspecting seafood and monitoring for
Christina See was one of those poisoned in 1993, and had to
have her large intestine removed.
"While I was in the hospital," she says, "virtually every
organ except my heart and brain shut down."
Starting Monday, not only will government inspectors look at
meat for signs of disease, they will also run tests for
things that are not obvious in a visual inspection.
"When we all look at a package of meat and it's clean, it's
not going to be possible to tell what the bacteria levels
are," says Dr. Craig Reed of the U.S. Department of
Companies will also be required to keep written records of
what they're doing to keep their plants clean.
"We want them to be squeaky clean at the beginning of
operations," says Dr. Reed. "We want the table tops to shine.
We don't want there to be meat from yesterday's operation
Inspectors are also taking classes to help them understand
why meat gets infected. It is part of the high-tech training
the Clinton Administration proposes to track food poisoning
and step up seafood inspections.
"This is being done to keep the President's commitment to
clean food and water," says White House Press Secretary Mike
The food industry says it supports the president's proposal.
"Additional federal resources to provide greater training for
our nation's inspectors as well as additional research
dollars to better understand the nature of our nation's
food supply are very positive developments," says J. Patrick
Boyle of the American Meat Institute.
Consumer groups are pleased, too.
Says Caroline Smith DeWaal of the Center for Science in the
Public Interest, "We're at the dawn of a new era for food
safety regulation in this country."
The changes don't guarantee that food will be safe. Consumers
will still have to do their part to prevent contamination,
but it should put them more at ease.
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