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Food safety resources vary by state

April 20, 2009 at 11:44 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, April 20 (UPI) -- The wide variation among states' handling of suspected food-related illnesses prevents a coordinated response to food emergencies, officials said.

Congress and the Obama administration have already said more inspections and new food production rules are needed to prevent food-related diseases, but officials say that will only go so far in preventing disease, The New York Times reported Monday.

"The longer it takes you to nail an outbreak, the more people are going to get sick," Dr. David Acheson, associate commissioner for foods at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said. "And if it's a pathogen that causes death, the more people are going to die."

State officials say they are prevented by budget constraints from aggressively investigating cases of food-borne illnesses.

"Just $50 million spread over the entire country would make a huge difference," Dr. Timothy Jones, the state epidemiologist in Tennessee, said.

© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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