With domestic food outbreaks galore happening, and tainted food imported from abroad every day, the problems we face are evident. Yet somehow, prioritizing funds to effectively mobilize our food safety oversight agencies remains non-existent, as pointed out by The New York Times.
As FDA officials tour farms in preparation to set rules for the recently passed Food Safety Modernization Act, food safety advocates "worry that budget cuts could render the law toothless." This is all the more reason to take advantage of one significant piece of the new law already in effect -- food whistleblower protection -- and they don't cost a thing! As FIC and fellow coalition members continue to urge Congress to support agency funding, we must rely on the workers along the food chain to hold industry accountable and stop contamination where it starts. These safeguards will allow individuals to safely speak up without, like in the past, company supervisors harassing or removing them for doing so.
We still lack adequate whistleblower protections for workers reporting USDA violations, however, as well as federal employees. The combination of USDA budget cuts AND zero whistleblower rights can be lethal, as seen by the recent Salmonella outbreak tied to ground turkey.
Come on, Congress, let's get it together!
Sarah Damian is New Media Fellow for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower advocacy organization.