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The FDA has reported that the salmonella outbreak that sickened at least 1,440 people appears to be over, but its ultimate source may never be known, partly because of shortcomings in the nation’s food safety system.

FDA and CDC officials have said that a number of steps are needed to improve the safety of fresh produce, even as the government and the medical community are urging consumers to eat more fruits and vegetables for better nutrition.

Among those measures: Standard procedures and more funding to allow state laboratories to test samples of suspected pathogens more rapidly. Congressional action to give the FDA authority to impose produce safety regulations. And industry action to develop a faster system for tracing back to the farm any produce items suspected in an outbreak.

A recent survey confirms that Americans are as concerned about food safety as other major issues. The Center for Food Integrity, reports that persons surveyed were more worried about food safety than the war in Iraq or global warming.

We can only hope that the candidates for President will address this very important issue in the coming months.

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