LawFuel – The pet food inspection system is deeply flawed according to…

LawFuel – The pet food inspection system is deeply flawed according to a leading advocate of food safety and oopen to questions directed to the Food And Drug Administration who’s own response was “tragically slow” in a Senate subcommittee hearing this week.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.)is a leading advocate of improving food safety,who criticized the federal inspection process for both human and pet food. “The system is broken-down,” he said.

The Senate hearings are seeking the FDA response to the contamination that has killed pets and led to the recall of more than 100 brands.

Durbin is the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, who called for the hearing last week. He said he would like to see the FDA set national standards and inspection rules for pet food manufacturing facilities.

“The FDA is like a fire department that is only called after the house has burned,” Durbin said in a telephone interview.

He also said he would like to see federal law changed to allow the FDA to order a recall of food intended for human or pet consumption rather than rely on companies to do it voluntarily.

The agriculture appropriations subcommittee plans to schedule a hearing for Thursday or sometime next week. Durbin said he expects to hear from FDA Commissioner Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach, veterinarians and representatives of the pet food industry.

The pet food recall, one of the largest in U.S. history, began March 16 when Menu Foods recalled selected “cuts and gravy” products made in its Emporia, Kan., facility in response to reports of kidney failures in cats and dogs. The company has recalled products manufactured from Nov. 8, 2006, to March 6. Officials with Menu Foods could not be reached Saturday.

Several other companies have also issued recalls.

The FDA has confirmed about 15 animal deaths from poisoning — although the number could be much higher. The agency has received more than 12,000 reports of illnesses in the three weeks since the recall — more than twice the number they normally receive in a year.

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