Clinton wants even more funding for food safety
December 28, 1997
Guatemalan raspberries infected with the parasite cyclospora were blamed in 1996 for making hundreds of people sick in the United States and Canada.
Web posted at: 1:11 p.m. EST (1811 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Clinton administration will propose a
significant increase in spending for food inspections and
safety research in the draft budget he will present to
Congress early next year.
As the result of a series of tainted-food scares, President
Clinton is to seek an additional $71 million for food-safety
programs at the Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug
Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention in Atlanta.
The increase would bring total spending for all federal
food-safety programs to $817 million for the fiscal year that
starts October 1.
The plan was motivated by this year's outbreaks across the
United States of food-borne illness from tainted Guatemalan
raspberries, Louisiana oysters and Midwestern ground beef.
January 1997: 400 people become ill in Louisiana after eating tainted oysters from that state's waters.
August 1997: A Hudson Foods processing plant in Columbus,
Nebraska, recalls 1.2 million pounds of ground-beef patties
tainted with E. coli bacteria that made at least 16 people
ill. Hudson later recalls 25 million additional pounds of
hamburger after inspectors find bacterial contamination.
March 1997: A Special Olympics event in Michigan serves
shortcakes topped with strawberries later found to be
tainted. At least 150 cases of hepatitis A are linked to the
July 1996: Guatemalan raspberries are blamed for sickening
some U.S. and Canadian residents.
The additional money reportedly would be used to hire new
scientists and up to 100 new inspectors who would be sent
overseas to examine farming, including the use of fertilizers
and pesticides. The money would also be used to buy new
equipment to detect food-borne diseases.
"What we are trying to do is take the agencies that deal with
food inspection from the 19th century to the 21st century,"
an unidentified senior White House official told The New York
Times. "We are carrying out the first update of our
food-safety programs in 90 years."
Critics accuse the government of belatedly addressing a
problem that has been worsening for years, because of an
explosion of fruit and vegetable imports and lax enforcement
of laws governing sanitation at feedlots, slaughterhouses and
Beef from a processing plant in Nebraska was found this
year to be tainted with E. coli bacteria.
"It is good that they are funding new inspectors for
overseas, but they haven't begun to grapple with the fact
that they need new inspectors for domestic produce and
seafood," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of food safety
for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a
Washington-based consumer group.