Processing Magazine

Obama’s budget would cut safety testing program for fruits, veggies

February 16, 2012

WASHINGTON — The budget plan that President Obama sent to Congress Monday would eliminate the Agriculture Department’s Microbiological Data Program, the nation’s only program that regularly tests fresh produce for deadly bacteria including salmonella, E. coli and listeria, reported.

The budget plan would cut the $5 million program, which screens high-risk fruits and vegetables throughout the year.

According to House Office of Management and Budget spokeswoman Meg Reilly, the decision to cut the program was made after USDA decided it had limited impact.

"While food safety is a vitally important part of successfully marketing produce and other agricultural products, other federal and state public health agencies are better equipped to perform this function," USDA spokeswoman Courtney Rowe said in a statement.