Report urges changes in FDA procedures

LOS ANGELES "The agency is reactive rather than proactive. That means they wait until there's an outbreak before they respond," said Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News senior health and medical director.

Besser's talking about an /*Institute of Medicine*/ report that criticizes the /*U.S. Food and Drug Administration*/'s ability to protect the public from food borne illness outbreaks.

Not only do they site the FDA for not doing enough, the IOM also takes issue with the fact that there is more than one agency watching over our food supply, which results in a disconnect in safety.

"The chairman of the committee is calling for one food agency," said Besser. "If you look at how food is protected in our country, the FDA is responsible for produce, they're responsible for seafood. But you look at meat and poultry , they're over at the Department of Agriculture."

Take pizza, for example. If there's a problem with a cheese pizza the FDA oversees it. But add pepperoni, it then falls into the hands of the USDA.

In response to the report, the FDA released the follwoing statement:

"They are already making significant progress to ensure government agencies are working seamlessly."

While agencies debate which foods are the riskiest, foods reporting high cases of illness are leafy greens, eggs, tuna, oysters, potatoes, cheese, and ice cream. Chicken is the number one culprit for salmonella sickness.

There are 76 million cases of food illness yearly.

There are many things Americans can do to protect themselves -- from hand sanitation to cooking techniques to proper storage.

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