Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Food Inspection Confusion Hints at Looming Turf Battles

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Food Inspection Confusion Hints at Looming Turf Battles

Article excerpt

Does the right hand know what the left hand is doing?

In his report on reinventing government, Vice President Al Gore recommends eliminating "the Food Safety and Inspection Service as a separate agency by consolidating all food-safety responsibilities under the Food and Drug Administration."

But the U.S. Department of Agriculture does not seem to have received the message. The department's summary of Gore's national performance review assumes the status quo:

"While the structure of three agencies under the assistant secretary for marketing and inspection services - the Agricultural Marketing Service, the Animal and Plant Inspection Service, and the Food Safety and Inspection Service - will remain unchanged, emphasis will be placed on aggressive regulatory actions to maintain and heighten the safety and quality of the food supply."

Mary Dixon, deputy press secretary for the Department of Agriculture, saw no conflict. "Today, we announced our reorganization plan," which is a review that Secretary Mike Espy had promised to undertake at his confirmation. It was a separate endeavor from the vice president's.

"Ultimately we will adopt the president's plan," said Dixon. "The secretary is a team player."

Sen. Christopher S. Bond, R-Mo., who has long been interested in agriculture, is cool to the idea of shifting responsibility for food safety to the FDA. …

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