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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release July 2, 1998

             Also Encourages Congress to Boost USDA's Authority 
                        for Recall and Enforcement

Washington, DC -- Vice President Gore called on Congress today to fund the President's Food Safety Initiative, and he also urged state and local governments and consumers to do their part to make America's food safer.

"When it comes to food safety, everyone has a role to play," said Vice President Gore, who was joined at the Agriculture Department (USDA) by Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and food safety advocate Carol Tucker Foreman.

"As we approach the July fourth weekend," he added, "I hope Congress will step up to the plate and do what's necessary to keep our families' food safe. And, I encourage families to take certain precautions to guard against food-borne illness."

The Vice President's call to fund the President's Food Safety Initiative comes after the Senate Appropriations Committee recently allocated just $2.6 million and the House allocated just $16.8 million.

This initiative calls for:

        giving the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to 
       prevent the import of produce from countries that lack safety 
       precautions equivalent to our own;

        further expanding our early warning system and strengthening
       state surveillance activities for food-borne illness;

        hiring FDA inspectors to improve the safety of our nation's
       fruit and vegetables, both domestic and imported;

        developing new ways for federal inspectors to detect food-borne
       illnesses in meat and poultry and determine the sources of
       contamination; and

        improving education outreach on proper food handling.

     The Vice President encouraged state and local governments and the

retail food industry to follow the food safety recommendations in the FDA's Food Code -- its recommended but voluntary standards and practices to keep food safe in restaurants, grocery stores, nursing homes, day care centers, and other local food service operations.

In addition, the Vice President called on Congress to pass the Food Safety and Enforcement Enhancement Act, sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), which would enable USDA to assess civil fines and order mandatory recalls of unsafe meat and poultry products.

Finally, the Vice President and Glickman presented safety tips to promote safe handling and grilling of meat and poultry this summer.