Food safety to take backseat to economy

Dec. 26, 2008 at 1:49 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- Fixing the U.S. food system will take a backseat to bigger problems such as the failing economy and healthcare, says Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

President-elect Barack Obama is sympathetic to calls to revamp the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, though it's unlikely his administration can get to it soon, said Durbin, a proponent of tougher food laws.

Obama is expected soon to name his choice to head the FDA and consumer groups expect his administration to handle food issues differently than the Bush administration, said Chris Waldrop, director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America.

The Bush administration shunned aggressive regulation despite food-borne disease outbreaks in recent years which highlighted the government's inability to oversee a rapidly expanding food market, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

Food-borne illnesses annually kill several thousand and sicken as many as 76 million people in the United States, the Times reported.

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