Skip to comments.GAO Says Food Supply Vulnerable to Attack Because of Inadequate Inspection System
Posted on 10/11/2001 8:07:16 AM PDT by callisto
THIS ARTICLE IS FYI
WASHINGTON (AP) - The nation's food supply is vulnerable to terrorist attack because of the government's fragmented inspection system, congressional investigators say. "We believe there is reason to doubt our ability to detect and fully respond to an organized bioterrorist attack," said Robert Robinson of the General Accounting Office, an investigative arm of Congress.
Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said Thursday that her department's inspectors were on alert but disagreed that the government safety system was a problem.
"Everybody, whether it's in government, the private sector or consumers, wants a safe food supply," she said.
Food inspection programs are divided between the Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration. FDA, which is responsible for safeguarding nearly all foods other than meat and poultry, has 750 inspectors to check 55,000 food plants. USDA has 10 times as many inspectors for 6,000 facilities.
GAO has pressed Congress for years to consolidate inspection programs into one agency, and the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 make it more imperative, Robinson told the Senate Governmental Affairs subcommittee on Wednesday. "Maybe the events of Sept. 11 will give us some impetus to change," said Sen. Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat who has long advocated the creation of a single food agency, an idea studied but dropped by the Clinton administration.
Thousands of food processors nationwide lack proper security, and few test their finished products for contaminants, said Peter Chalk, a policy analyst with the RAND think tank.
Robinson said the Agriculture Department has been left out of the administration's bioterrorism planning.
USDA and FDA officials said that they are coordinating their efforts to prevent or deal with an attack.
"We're in a new day. We're facing threats we never thought we would have to be facing," said Elsa Murano, USDA's new undersecretary for food safety.
She said she would be willing to discuss reorganizing food safety programs. But neither Veneman nor Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, who oversees the FDA, support the idea.
Food could be used to spread a biological agent, said Bernard Schwetz, FDA's acting principal deputy commissioner. Such an attack would "reach a large number of people relatively quickly through a means they wouldn't expect to be a problem," he said.
The food industry says it is prepared to deal with a terrorist attack.
"We've got a history of working in the areas of product tampering and prevention," said Gene Grabowski, a spokesman for the Grocery Manufacturers of America. "We know what the critical control points are."
The group opposes consolidation of food safety programs but said FDA needs more money to expand its staff.
There has been only one recorded terrorist attack on the U.S. food supply, in the 1980s when a religious sect contaminated salad bars in Oregon with salmonella bacteria.
"I must not fear.Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
Thank you Frank Herbert.
"Thousands of food processors nationwide lack proper security, and few test their finished products for contaminants, said Peter Chalk, a policy analyst with the RAND think tank."
RAND is a leftist org. These folks are just using scare tactics, and relying on the ignorance of people to grow the nanny state. It's a jobs program for nannies, supported by all the ninnies.
WHY do we have an "Inadequate Inspection System"?....OH! I know, NOT ENOUGH MONEY...OR we need more BUREACRACIES!
Thanks. This needs repeating.
You know, like protecting us from "genetically engineered corn" in our taco shells, clearly a terrorist plot.
All they really want to protect is their power over the citizens .
Food Supply Vulnerable to Attack Because of government assistance in developing a socialist agribusiness industry and creating industrial farms and mega-processing centers.
Get the government off of the farm and out of my food and out of the price manipulation market.
On the other hand, the Rabbi tasked with making sure everything was kosher was there every month.
He didn't require an office.
That guy continues to be part of the problem, not the solution.
Just as the police only show up after a crime has been committed, the only time the USDA shows up at any of these processing plants is after a salmonella outbreak. Then they show up in droves to bluster around, act shocked, and take names.
America needs to get over The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair, the book which manufactured the concensus for the creation of the FDA.
"I must not fear.Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
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