Monday, February 2, 2009

Food safety, from the top

Part of the problem with catching tainted food that makes its way into our food system is that the agency that is responsible for most of the inspections of our food, the FDA, uses most of its budget to deal with the safety of the D (drug) in its name, and the other agency who does inspections, a part of the Department of Agriculture, isn't funded nearly as well. It's been suggested that the inspection process be taken out of each agency and combined into a separate agency. (A more in-depth discussion of this problem can be found at Science Progress [click here].)

"I think that the (Food and Drug Administration) has not been able to catch some of these things as quickly as I expect them to catch," Obama said in an interview aired Monday on NBC's "Today" show. "And so we're gonna be doing a complete review of FDA operations."

One of the changes that already has happened:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced Friday final approval of a project to test a results and competency-linked pay-for-performance system that will change the way employees are compensated, rewarded, and recognized.

FSIS is a public health regulatory agency that continually invests in human capital. In order to continue agency success in performing a range of food safety, food defense, and public health regulatory missions over the next decade, FSIS requires an innovative human resources system. The demonstration project will enable FSIS to take a proactive role in finding solutions to all of these challenges in order to attract a diverse and well-qualified applicant pool, and to retain and motivate its current workforce. The final Federal Register notice is available at:

The Public Health Human Resources System (PHHRS) is a pay-for-performance project that will include approximately 2,800 FSIS employees.

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