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Progress! This is the kind of nuts-and-bolts stuff that makes a huge difference in our everyday lives. Not incidentally, this is the kind of thing for which we should be able to count on from our federal government, the sort of thing at which Republican "conservatives" so love to chip away. Food safety seems to be a reasonable thing to expect, don't you think? So thumbs up to the Obama administration for starting the process of getting this done:
The Food and Drug Administration on Friday proposed two sweeping rules aimed at preventing the contamination of produce and processed foods, which has sickened tens of thousands of Americans annually in recent years.
The proposed rules represent a sea change in the way the agency polices food, a process that currently involves taking action after contamination has been identified. It is a long-awaited step toward codifying the food safety law that Congress passed two years ago.
Changes include requirements for better record keeping, contingency plans for handling outbreaks and measures that would prevent the spread of contaminants in the first place. While food producers would have latitude in determining how to execute the rules, farmers would have to ensure that water used in irrigation met certain standards and food processors would need to find ways to keep fresh food that may contain bacteria from coming into contact with food that has been cooked.
New safety measures might include requiring that farm workers wash their hands, installing portable toilets in fields and ensuring that foods are cooked at temperatures high enough to kill bacteria.
The lack of toilets for farm workers is a common reason for produce contamination. Use your imagination -- and then wash your spinach!