January 20, 2020

Food Safety Attorney Fred Pritzker: Produce Testing Cuts Unwise

Food Safety Attorney Fred Pritzker discussed how cuts in produce testing will affect food safety with Minnesota Public Radio’s Cathy Wurzer on Friday morning. Funding for the Microbiological  Data Program (MDP)  has been cut, so the program will cease to exist after December 31, 2012. What kind of affect will this have on food safety? Not a good one, Pritzker sad.

Lawyer Fred Pritzker

Attorney Fred Pritzker

“We know people will be sick becasue of this action,” Pritzker said. “Why would we be doing that?”

The Microbiological Data Program (MDP) is  a national foodborne pathogen monitoring program  that was cerated in 2001. Operated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the program basically brought the USDA’s meat and poultry monitoring program to produce. At a cost of about $4 million per year, MDP worked in cooperation with  state agriculture departments and other federal agencies, to manage the collection, analysis, and reporting of foodborne pathogens on selected agricultural commodities including alfalfa sprouts, cantaloupe, bagged lettuce and spinach.

MDP has been  an economical  and effective program that  has detected 30 foodborne illness outbreaks, Pritzker said. Despite its success, the program  is a victim of  cost-cutting measures in the  federal budget for 2013. To eliminate it is  “penny wise and pound foolish,” said Pritzker.

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