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Food won't be safer anytime soon

Despite the fact that foodborne illness linked to tainted produce has made headlines, U.S. agencies in charge of fixing the problem have made little headway. A plan introduced by the Food & Drug Administration in February to its parent agency--the Department of Health and Human Services--has gone nowhere, the Wall Street Journal reports.

In August, an outbreak of E. coli infections in 25 states, including one death, led the FDA to advise consumers to avoid all fresh spinach for a week while the agency tracked the source.

At present, the FDA relies on growers and processors to follow voluntary guidelines to protect food safety. The plan presented by the agency in February would impose tough rules on growers and processors to prevent contamination.

Fruits and vegetables are now responsible for more large-scale foodborne illness outbreaks than meat, poultry or eggs, the Journal says. The increase in tainted produce has been linked to factors including the centralization of produce distribution, an increase in imports, the growing popularity of pre-chopped fruits and vegetables, and contamination by animal waste.

For tips on protecting event guests from foodborne illness, see an article from our May issue by clicking here.

Photo by iStockphoto.com/ © Jason Kravitz

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