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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 4, 1998
                               July 4, 1998

In his weekly radio address, the President will announce the publication of a final rule to improve the safety of fruit and vegetable juices. The new regulation, which will take effect in time for this year's apple cider season, will help prevent illnesses from fresh, unpasteurized juices by requiring labels on these products. In addition, the President will announce a plan to create a Joint Institute for Food Safety Research that will develop a coordinated strategy for conducting food safety research activities consistent with the President's Food Safety Initiative. Finally, the President will call on Congress to provide full funding for his Food Safety Initiative, pass vital food safety legislation, and confirm Dr. Jane E. Henney as the new FDA commissioner.

Warning Labels for Consumers. The President will announce a final rule that will require warning labels on juice products that have not been processed to reduce microbial risk. These labels will state: "WARNING: This product has not been pasteurized and, therefore, may contain harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness in children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems." These labels will be required for all packages of untreated, fresh juices but not for juice sold for on-site consumption, such as in restaurants. The rule will be effective for this year's apple cider season. The FDA expects it to reduce significantly the incidence of juice-related illness, now estimated at up to 40,000 cases each year, including both treated and untreated juice.

Food Safety Research Institute. The President will direct the Secretaries of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to report back to him within 90 days on the creation of a Joint Institute for Food Safety Research that will: (1) develop a strategic plan for conducting food safety research activities consistent with the President's Food Safety Initiative; and (2) efficiently coordinate all Federal food safety research, including research conducted with the private sector and academia. The principal goals of this Joint Institute will be to develop the means to identify foodborne hazards more rapidly and accurately, and to develop effective interventions to prevent food contamination at each step from farm to table.

Food Safety Initiative and Legislation. The President also will call on Congress to provide full funding for his $101 million food safety initiative, which would support a variety of measures including: hiring additional FDA inspectors to examine the safety of our nation's fruits and vegetables, both domestic and imported; developing new ways for federal inspectors to detect food-borne illnesses in meat and poultry and determine the source of contamination; improving educational outreach on proper food handling; and expanding our early warning system to help detect and respond to outbreaks of foodborne illnesses. The President also will call on Congress to pass two vital pieces of legislation to improve the safety of the nation's food supply. One bill will ensure that the FDA halts imports of fruits, vegetables, and other food products that do not meet U.S. food safety requirements or that do not provide the same level of protection as is required for U.S. products. The second bill will give USDA the authority to issue mandatory recalls and impose civil penalties for unsafe meat and poultry.

New FDA Commissioner. The President also called on Congress to confirm Dr. Jane E. Henney as the new Commissioner of the FDA. The FDA needs the strong leadership of Dr. Henney to help lead the way to improving food safety and assuring the safety and efficacy of pharmaceutical and biological therapeutics, medical devices, blood products, generic drugs, food additives, and cosmetics.

Clinton Administration Accomplishments In Improving Food Safety

The President's announcement builds on a strong record of food safety initiatives, ensuring that Americans eat the safest possible food. The Administration has put into place improved safety standards for meat, poultry, and seafood products, and has begun the process of developing enhanced standards for fruit and vegetable juices. The Administration also has expanded research, education, and surveillance activities throughout the food safety system.

*February 1998. Administration announces its proposed food safety budget, which requests an approximate $101 million increase for food safety initiatives.

*May 1997. Administration announces comprehensive new initiative to improve the safety of nation's food supply --"Food Safety from Farm to Table" -- detailing a $43 million food safety program, including measures to improve surveillance, outbreak response, education, and research.

*January 1997. President announces new Early-Warning System to gather critical scientific data to help stop foodborne disease outbreaks quickly and to improve prevention systems.

*August 1996. President signs Safe Drinking Water Act of 1996. The law requires drinking water systems to protect against dangerous contaminants like cryptosporidium, and gives people the right to know about contaminants in their tap water.

*August 1996. President signs Food Quality Protection Act of 1996, which streamlines regulation of pesticides by FDA and EPA and puts important new public-health protections in place, especially for children.

*July 1996. President Clinton announces new regulations that modernize the nation's meat and poultry inspection system for the first time in 90 years. New standards help prevent E.coli bacteria contamination in meat.

*December 1995. Administration issues new rules to ensure seafood safety, utilizing HACCP regulatory programs to require food industries to design and implement preventive measures and increase the industries' responsibility for and control of their safety assurance actions.

*1994. CDC embarks on strategic program to detect, prevent, and control emerging infectious disease threats, some of which are food borne, making significant progress toward this goal in each successive year.

*1993. Vice-President's National Performance Review issues report recommending government and industry move toward a system of preventive controls.