Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., thinks the U.S. Department of Agriculture is better equipped to oversee food inspections than the Food and Drug Administration.
Peterson is chair of the House Agriculture Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Agriculture Department.
Peterson told the Bemidji Pioneer that he’s authored bills before to move FDA food inspection duties to USDA, and he says he will introduce it again.
“We have jurisdiction over meat and catfish,” says Peterson. “FDA has jurisdiction over everything else. We’re not perfect, but our track record is a helluva lot better at USDA than it is at FDA.”
Big brand name companies have a vital interest in keeping food safe, Peterson said. “But these outlaying companies like Peanut Corp. of America that nobody’s ever heard of…sell only to food services which are looking for the cheapest product. It’s where the brand can’t get hurt.”
Peterson said he visited by phone with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., before her recent panel discussion on food safe and she told him of her plans to call for criminal prosecution of the owner of the Georgia peanut – processing company linked to the current national salmonella outbreak. She also said federal laws should be changed to prevent future outbreaks.
“I told Amy if you’re going to get FDA to [inspect], they’re going to have to start having people there, monitoring the product also like we do at USDA,” Peterson said. “The problem is they don’t have anywhere near enough people to do that.”
If people really want food safety, that’s what needs to be done, he said. “And it’s going to cost more money.”