Conflict of interest at USDA? Representative DeLauro thinks so, proposes stripping USDA of safety oversight
February 21, 2008
U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro has called for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be stripped of its responsibility for food safety in the wake of the nation’s largest-ever meat recall. The agency’s twin mandates of promoting the nation’s agriculture and monitoring it for safety have become blurred, said U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro.
“Food safety ought to be of a high enough priority in this nation that we have a single agency that deals with it and not an agency that is responsible for promoting a product, selling a product and then as an afterthought dealing with how our food supply is safe,” said DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat who chairs the House subcommittee responsible for the USDA’s funding.
She made her remarks during a conference call with reporters about the recall of some 143 million pounds (65 million kilograms) of beef products dating to Feb. 1, 2006, from Chino, California-based Westland/Hallmark Meat Co.
Officials estimate that about 55 million pounds (25 million kilograms) of the recalled beef went to USDA nutrition programs, the bulk of it for schools, Pacelle said.
DeLauro planned a pair of hearings for early March to examine why federal inspectors did not note the mistreatment and take steps to ensure that “the school lunch program does not become the industry dumping ground for bad meat.”
Rep. George Miller,a Democrat from California, who chairs the House Education and Labor Committee, said during the conference call that the U.S. Government Accountability Office had started investigating the safety of the National School Lunch Program, which is administered by the USDA.