In Danger of Being Stopped: Microbiological Data Program Haley McAdams
The federation of State Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG) is up in arms over federal plans to cut the Agriculture Department's whole budget of $5 million for the Microbiological Data Program (MDG), effectively eliminating the nation’s largest produce testing program. According to PIRG, MDG is responsible for screening high-risk fresh produce for pathogens such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria, conducting about 15,000 random tests a year.
Although many restaurant owners have made a valuable contribution to food safety by making a food handler certification or a food safety certification an employment requirement, the food-supply chain has many stops and foodborne pathogens can enter the chain at any of them. MDG attempts to arrest the entry of pathogens in the middle of the chain. PIRG’s alarm comes on the heels of Dole’s recent recall of some 800 bags of lettuce after Salmonella was discovered by MDG during random sampling in New York, one of 11 states that host produce distribution centers from which samples are collected to gather data on E. coli (STEC), E. coli O157:H7 and other pathogens.
"Cutting this program will leave public health officials without a crucial tool used to investigate deadly foodborne illnesses in fresh produce leaving inspections in the hands of produce producers. Is this really conducive to keeping consumers safe?" asked Nasima Hossain, a U.S. PIRG public health advocate. "In view of the accelerated increase in foodborne illnesses linked to fresh produce, and this latest recall of bagged lettuce, we think the USDA should reconsider cutting this program which is thoughtless and will leave the public increasingly in more danger." MDP was launched under President Bush's 2001 Food Safety Initiative. Learn2serve.com, a 360training.com portal for online food safety certification and online food handler certification, helps safeguard the food-supply line by educating restaurant workers in the critical protocols of proper food handling and food safety.
The federation of State Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG) is up in arms over federal plans to cut the Agriculture Department's whole bu...