The Role of Consumer Advocacy in Strengthening Food Safety Policy
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When Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle in 1906, he raised public concern about the health, safety, and sanitation practices of the meatpacking industry, which Congress quickly addressed by enacting the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act. Since then, new food challenges have emerged as food production practices and longer supply chains evolved for a population demanding fresher food, more food eaten away from home, and more prepared food items for consumption at home. Late in the twentieth century, a large outbreak associated with E. coli O157:H7 spurred the federal government and its state partners to shift meat and poultry oversight away from a prescribed reactive approach to one that is more proactive and preventive and based on a science- and risk-based approach. Later, after repeated outbreaks associated with non-meat and poultry products, a similar effort was launched to provide stronger protections for other types of food. Consumer advocates made important contributions to secure the passage and implementation of both the 1996 Pathogen Reduction/Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points Final Rule at USDA and the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act at FDA, and they have led the way in developing other protections, such as improved labeling for foods. As scientific knowledge improves our understanding of food safety hazards, there is much more to be done if we hope to meet the ongoing and future food challenges, in particular, the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of foodborne bacteria.
KeywordsAntibiotic resistance Consumer advocacy Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Food policy Food safety reform Foodborne illness Mechanically tenderized beef PR/HACCP
Agricultural Research Service
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Congressional Budget Office
Economic Research Service
Food and Drug Administration
Foodborne Outbreak Online Database
Food Safety Inspection Service
Food Safety Modernization Act
Government Accountability Office
Health and Human Services
Interagency Food Safety Analytics Collaboration
Long-term health outcomes
Make Our Food Safe coalition
National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System
Office of Inspector General
Office of Management and Budget
Pathogen Reduction/Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points
Safe Food Coalition
US Department of Agriculture
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