One of the most important ways to keep consumers safe from tainted food is the rapid reporting of food related illnesses to governmental food safety agencies and getting that food out of the marketplace. While the system has gotten better recently, according to Dr. Richard Raymond, Undersecretary of USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, there is a tremendous amount of room for improvement. To that end, FSIS is organizing a major national summit.
"We'll gather state health officials, and city and county health officials, and state epidemiologists and representatives of us, and CDC and FDA and I expect this conference to expose some warts," Raymond says. "I want to know where we can do better as a federal government, but at the same time I'm going to tell state and locals where they can do better. That has been an issue."
For example, a delay of reporting an e-coli outbreak results in possible fatal delays in tracking down the source and removing contaminated food from the market. The national summit will be held in mid-May.