The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have granted a $200,000 grant to TDH to create the Integrated Food Safety Center of Excellence at the university. The award implements Section 399V-5 of the landmark Food Safety Modernization Act.
The past few years have seen many outbreaks of foodborne illness in the United States, including problems with contaminated meat, spinach, eggs, peanut butter, and imported produce. Both consumer advocates and many food producers have called for better federal standards.
Congressman John Dingell (D-MI) introduced legislation in 2009 to provide national standards. Dingell's proposal morphed into the landmark Food Safety Modernization Act, passed with bipartisan support and signed by President Obama two years ago. The law aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it.
CDC has established Centers of Excellence through a competitive process in four other states as well as Tennessee:
- Colorado, and
The regional centers aim to create partnerships among public health professionals by formally linking state health departments, schools of public health, and agriculture schools.
According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, sickness from contaminated food costs the United States $152 billion per year. Each time someone gets sick from food, the nation incurs an average cost of $1,850.
The regional centers will be important resources for the United States to use in responding to foodborne disease outbreaks. They will identify and implement surveillance practices and provide technical epidemiological, laboratory, and environmental assistance and training.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts Food Safety Project have sponsored a Collaborative Food Safety Forum for multiple stakeholders in the food safety process. These private agencies seek to reduce health risks from foodborne pathogens by strengthening federal government authority and the enforcement of food safety laws. They have engaged in focused constructive, and creative development of recommendations for FSMA's implementation.
Based in Chicago, Sandy Dechert has researched and covered health issues since the 1990s. She recently reported on medical progress in 2012, health issues during the Presidential race, and the provisions and national debate over the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Obamacare).
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