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CIFOR Releases Guidelines to Foodborne Outbreak Response; FSWG Issues Key Control Findings

By Rady Ananda

The Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response just released its Guidelines for Foodborne Outbreak Response. Earlier this month, Obama’s new Food Safety Working Group, headed by Monsanto executive Michael Taylor, released its Key Control Findings. Decentralizing the food supply would provide the greatest food security. Instead the Administration seeks omnipotent control.

On Wednesday, CIFOR released a 200-page set of Guidelines for Foodborne Outbreak Response. CIFOR’s guidelines are targeted to local, state and federal agencies and provide model practices used in foodborne disease outbreaks, including planning, detection, investigation, control and prevention. 

“It is our hope that this document will be useful to investigators at all levels in improving outbreak investigations and serve as a platform for developing local and agency specific policies and additional tools to support these critical public health activities,” said Dr. Tim Jones, Tennessee State Epidemiologist and CoChair of CIFOR.

CIFOR advises these Guidelines are not intended to replace current procedure manuals for responding to outbreaks. Instead, they are “to be used as a reference document for comparison with existing procedures; to fill in gaps and update site specific procedures; to provide models for new procedures where they do not exist; and to provide training to program staff.”

CIFOR is composed of seven professional associations and three federal agencies (USDA, FDA and the CDC).

This follows the July 7th release of Key Findings from the new federal Food Safety Working Group, headed by Michael Taylor, former Monsanto executive. When serving at the Food and Drug Administration in 1991, Taylor approved rBGH, the genetically modified bovine growth hormone linked to cancer.

The Working Group identified three core food safety principles to guide the development of a modern, coordinated food safety system:

  • Preventing harm to consumers is our first priority. 
  • Effective food safety inspections and enforcement depend upon good data and analysis.  
  • Outbreaks of foodborne illness should be identified quickly and stopped. 

The FSWG also plans to develop a “trace-back” system, which shuts the barn door after the animals have left. Unannounced inspections before food leaves a plant provide much greater food safety. 

Instead of trace-back, the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund urges Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (another Monsanto favorite) to re-focus the nation’s animal disease and food safety efforts on several alternatives including:

  • Decentralize the livestock industry and encourage local, diversified farms, which would increase animal health, food security, and food safety;
  • Increase inspections of imported animals and agricultural products and bar the entry of animals from countries with known disease problems; and 
  • Improve enforcement of existing laws and inspections of large slaughterhouses and food processing facilities, including unannounced spot inspections at those large facilities.

Large scale meatpacking and slaughterhouses are the primary source of foodborne illness. Yet, in February, FSWG Chair Michael Taylor told a National Chicken Council committee meeting:

“FDA is in ‘bad shape’ and the FSIS meat and poultry inspection system is ‘obsolete.’ We’re spending a lot of government money to do inspections that could be done by someone else.  We need to complete the transformation of FSIS as a food safety agency, away from inspection to a science-based public health agency. [Emphasis added. Reported by Agri-Pulse]

In March, President Obama said: We are a nation built on the strength of individual initiative. But there are certain things that we can’t do on our own. There are certain things that only a government can do. And one of those things is ensuring that the foods we eat … are safe and don’t cause us harm.” 

Market Day for SK Farms (Paul Griepentrog, Wisconsin)

Market Day for SK Farms (Paul Griepentrog, Wisconsin)

Humans have been feeding themselves for 200,000 years without need of government. But, centralization of our food system created by monopolies is the largest threat facing our food supply today. Obama plans to centralize control of the system. It would be much less expensive to taxpayers, and provide a huge boost to local economies across the nation, to break up the food monopolies, thus decentralizing the food supply. This would also provide us with much safer sources of food.

It appears that Obama’s food safety goals include the deregulation of large business and hyper-regulation of small business. With a Monsanto Administration, these plans and guidelines further the goal of implementing a global agreement called Codex, which will criminalize nutrients and naturally grown foods.

This does not bode well for food safety, or for food freedom.

Rady Ananda’s articles have appeared in several online and print publications, including three books. She graduated in December 2003 from The Ohio State University’s School of Agriculture with a BS in Natural Resources.

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