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Dismayed consumers saw story after story break in 2008 about food safety and the FDA’s struggle to cope with domestic and foreign food contaminants: Salmonella, Listeria, Clostridium and other bacterial contaminants in food, lead in the wrappers of imported Mexican candy, melamine in cookies and other products produced in China. The list goes on and on; the FDA’s "Recalls, Market Witdrawals and Safety Alerts Archive" lists over 275 incidents during 2008, many for food contaminats.

Numerous causes for the problem have been identified: the expanded scope of FDA’s duties, the lack of any meaninful increase in FDA’s inspection budget, the increase in the quantity of imported food and the absence of any meaningful update to FDA’s "good manufacturing" standards.

Whatever the cause, consumers have been demanding solutions and, apparently, the FDA has heard. The FDA has announced that it will update current food processing safety rules in order to increase the level of protection. The FDA plans a survey of almost 3000 food processing plants, targeting what the FDA says are five key areas: employee training, sanitation and personal hygiene, allergen controls, process controls, and recordkeeping.

It’s none too soon for the FDA to address this critical issue.

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