March 19, 2009
CEO Of Kellogg’s Speaks To Congress About Increasing Food Safety
David Mackay, chief executive of Kellogg, will speak to Congress on Thursday about issues he believes the U.S. food safety system must immediately address, Reuters reported.
Kellogg lost $70 million after it had to recall millions of packages of peanut butter crackers and cookies during the recent salmonella outbreak.
Mackay is pushing for an appointed food safety authority within the Department of Health and Human Services devoted to keeping such incidences from happening.
While the HHS's Food and Drug Administration regulates food safety, some experts say drug issues get most of its attention.
The Kelloggs CEO also called for new requirements that all food companies have written safety plans, annual federal inspections of facilities that make high-risk foods and other reforms.
Mackay is expected to tell a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing that the recent outbreak illustrated that the U.S. food safety system must be strengthened.
"We believe the key is to focus on prevention, so that potential sources of contamination are identified and properly addressed before they become actual food safety problems," he said.
Contaminated food cases like the recent peanut outbreak have shaken the public confidence in food safety and renewed calls for FDA changes.
Ingredients supplied by Peanut Corp of America were linked to a salmonella outbreak that began in September and caused over 3,491 products that contain peanuts to be pulled from shelves.
Peanut Corp has since declared bankruptcy.
Some 700 people have become ill after eating contaminated peanut products, according to government statistics.
Kellogg recalled items such as its Keebler and Austin brands of peanut butter crackers. Mackay said they were forced to pull more than 7 million cases of products due to the Peanut Corp contamination.
Congress and the White House have both supported stricter food safety regulations.
The Obama administration blamed the recent outbreak partly on outdated food safety laws and underfunding and understaffing at the FDA. President Obama has since organized a panel to improve food safety laws.
Critics say more FDA funding is needed for inspections and basic research.
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