The House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations has a doozy of a hearing scheduled for today beginning at 10 am ET on the "Salmonella Outbreak: The Continued Failure to Protect the Food Supply."
From the committee release yesterday, the following witnesses "have been invited":
— Jeffrey Almer
— Lou Tousignant
— Peter K. Hurley
— Stewart Parnell, President, Peanut Corporation of America*
— Sammy Lightsey, Plant Manager, Peanut Corporation of America
— Stephen Sundlof, D.V.M., Ph.D., Director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration
— Oscar Garrison, Consumer Protection Division, Georgia Department of Agriculture
— Darlene Cowart, President, J. Leek Associates, Inc.
— Charles Deibel, President, Deibel Laboratories
* The Committee voted on February 10, 2009 to compel the testimony of Stewart Parnell.
Interesting line-up, isn’t it? Should provide quite a few testimonial fireworks, and not an inconsequential amount of "Representative Waxman, I decline to answer that question on advice of counsel" responses.
This hearing is a continuation of a series of hearings (YouTube) that the committee has held over the past few years on the increasing worries of taint, infestation and other problems within the nation’s food chain. And with products coming from outside our borders — you’ll likely remember the melamine scares from a few months ago as one example.
I wanted to highlight this (PDF):
The time has come to act and not continue simply to react. Consumers, Farmers, Suppliers, Manufacturers, Retailers, Regulators and Politicians need to work together to make our food supply safe, profitable and sustainable. When a quarter of our population is sickened yearly by contaminated food, when thousands die, we do not have the “safest food supply in the world.” We should, must and can do better. In closing, none of this will stop bacterial and viral illnesses entirely. These invisible poisons have been around a long time. However, these eight steps will enable us to help prevent it, help detect it far more quickly, to alert stores and families, and to keep our most vulnerable citizens – kids and seniors – out of harm’s way.
Amen. It’s a shame when avarice overcomes basic decency, and when the risk of poisoning the elderly and children isn’t enough to keep rats, feces, bugs and other hazards out of your manufacturing facility. But here we are.
NOTE: I’m planning to record the hearing — because my FIL’s dialysis pick-up happens right in the middle of the hearing’s start. I’ll certainly be following along once I get home. YouTube above is a Bill Moyers interview with Michael Pollan — great stuff.