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USDA, FDA To Jointly Develop Food-Safety Rules

By Jay Miller| Wall Street Journal

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration will work together to develop safety rules for fresh produce.

The House of Representatives, at the behest of U.S. President Barack Obama, in late July passed a bill that would give the FDA broader authority in the wake of a wave of illnesses involving peanuts, spinach, hot peppers and other foods. A version of that bill awaits a Senate vote.

Through the initiative, the FDA is gathering information and seeking feedback from the fresh produce industry, including small and organic farmers. In addition, USDA and FDA officials have been meeting together with farmers and local food safety officials.

"President Obama, like most Americans, wants immediate improvements in our food-safety system," said Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "As such, we are pulling together all our best resources - state and federal - to improve the safety of our foods and to work with growers to protect and promote the health of our nation."

Leanne Skelton, chief of the Agriculture Dept.'s fresh-products branch, will be working with the FDA over the next six months to help that regulator develop rules.

-By Jay Miller, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2355; [email protected]

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