U.S. Agriculture Secretary In Pittsburgh Talks Food Safety
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who grew up in Pittsburgh, was back home to promote President Obama’s American Jobs Act.
But his visit came just after a recall of cantaloupes from a Colorado farm.
“It’s obviously devastating to the farm, but it’s important for us to maintain people’s confidence in the food system and we’re going to continue to work on that,” Vilsack told KDKA’s Jon Delano.
Vilsack says both his Agriculture Department and the Food & Drug Administration work in tandem on food safety since a new law in 2010.
“In the past, we had diverging paths. Today, we’re on the same track or parallel. We’re working very well together.
“We’ve got an incident command system where we visit with each other. When we see a problem, they see a problem, they let us know, we let them know. So we are in a much better place than we were a couple years ago.”
And the Secretary says Americans need to keep perspective.
“If you think about the magnitude of the number of meals that are consumed in a year in America, it’s something along the neighborhood of 300 billion meals.
“And while we have still too high a rate of food borne illness, the reality is that most of us are comfortable in terms of food safety.”
But when something goes wrong, the U.S. is getting better at tracking food and produce.
“It is amazing that you can take a cantaloupe from a field in western part of the United States, and you can trace it to 11 or 12 different states, and know almost precisely when something was purchased and by whom.”
While the Allegheny County Health Department says some of these cantaloupes may have been sold in other parts of Pennsylvania, there is no evidence of these cantaloupes being sold here.
Nor has the Health Department had any reports of anyone being harmed by this agricultural product.