WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Consumers Union is calling for the creation of a single food agency to ensure adequate, efficient and effective oversight of our nation's food supply.



Consumers Union welcomes today's hearing in the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee to bring attention to the inadequacies in the government's system to monitor food's safety.



As highlighted in last week's GAO report, the nation's food supply is a "high-risk" area in need of immediate government attention to ensure the continued safety and integrity of our food.



"Having multiple agencies responsible for making certain the food on our table is safe to eat is a recipe for disaster," said Sally Greenberg, senior counsel at Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine. "We support the proposal for a single agency with authority, resources and leadership to oversee a safe and secure food supply in the 21st century food market."

Research and testing published in Consumer Reports illustrates the ineffectiveness of our current food oversight. Recent testing showed campylobacter -- bacteria found on chicken -- has nearly doubled to contamination rates of 81 percent. Yet USDA has not addressed the problem, or set a standard for campylobacter.



Consumer Reports also found fish available in the marketplace that often exceeded FDA's acceptable "action" level for mercury. While FDA has in place a system to evaluate levels of mercury, it does nothing to remove fish that exceeds their recommended levels or even provide adequate information to warn about the risks mercury poses to unborn children.



"USDA's policy of keeping secret the names and locations of tainted meat is a prime example of the often misguided and ineffective approach to food safety," added Greenberg. "Consumers need the attention and authority a single government entity can and should be able to provide to ensure healthy, worry-free eating."



A copy of the letter sent to Chairperson DeLauro and the House Subcommittee on Agriculture Appropriations is online.



SOURCE: Consumers Union via PR PR Newswire.