Ok, safety of our food supply is one of those issues that gets me a little worked up. I read popular press books about food policy. Nerd alert? Maybe, but I want to be able to eat without feeling paranoid about getting sick!

So today I went to the presidential candidate’s websites, looking to see if/how the candidates have responded to the latest beef recall, said to be the largest in history. Here’s what I found, in case others are interested. Details after the jump.

McCain: I couldn’t find anything among his website’s recent press releases. If anyone else has found a statement from him please let me know.

Clinton: posted her outline of 6 strategies for addressing this type of issue, including:

Increase USDA food safety funding by more than 50% so that our inspectors have the resources and staffing they need to do their jobs…

Hillary will work to centralize our nation’s food safety efforts in one agency, so that multiple bodies are not policing imports and setting separate standards. Right now, 15 agencies administer more than 30 laws related to food safety…

Hillary will authorize the FDA and USDA to mandate recalls of tainted products. Right now, the FDA and USDA lack mandatory recall authority.

Obama: released a brief statement. Here’s the “meat” of it [sorry for the awful pun!]:

I will provide additional resources to hire more federal food inspectors.  I will also call on the Department of Agriculture to examine whether federal food safety laws need to be strengthened, in particular to provide greater protections against tainted food being used in the National School Lunch Program.


Of the three, I found Senator Clinton’s to show the best grasp of the issues and the most detailed plan for addressing them. Obama wants to examine whether food safety laws need to be strengthened?

I mean it was just barely a year ago when we were reading articles like this one:

Risks of tainted food rise as inspections drop [full story]

Amid high-profile scares, FDA safety testing has fallen by half since 2003

The federal agency that’s been front and center in warning the public about tainted spinach and contaminated peanut butter is conducting just half the food safety inspections it did three years ago.

The cuts by the Food and Drug Administration come despite a barrage of high-profile food recalls.

“We have a food safety crisis on the horizon,” said Michael Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia.

Or shit, just go to the USDA site and look up all the recalls just from 2007. Looks to me like 47 recalls. Some for undeclared allergens, but many for delightful things like listeria and E. coli.

And then go to the FDA site and look at their recent recalls, which are a mix of food, supplement and non-food product recalls (due to the byzantine mess of jurisdictions over stuff that Hillary alluded to). Less than two weeks ago, there was a recall on frozen yellowfin tuna due to salmonella. Sheesh.