"Government Tightening Food Safety Standards"

"The White House is trying to make Americans' food safer after recent recalls of popular products like peanut butter and cookie dough.

A food safety working group established by President Barack Obama said Tuesday that the government will try and boost the safety of some of the nation's most popular foods, announcing stricter rules for the production of eggs, poultry, beef, leafy greens, melons and tomatoes. The new standards are an effort to reduce instances of salmonella and E. coli contamination.

The group, headed by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, is also directing the Food and Drug Administration to help the food industry establish better tracing systems if there is an outbreak, so the origins of a disease can be quickly found. A new network to help the many agencies that regulate food safety communicate better will also be created.

Tougher standards, including stiffer penalties and increased inspections, are included in legislation approved by a House panel earlier this year."

Mary Clare Jalonick reports for the Associated Press July 7, 2009.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009