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FDA accused of letting public down

Lawmakers heard allegations that the Food and Drug Administration is letting the public down. From produce to peanut butter to toothpaste, the biggest threat to Americans may be what we put in our mouths. Rep. Henry Waxman said, "And it's easy to see that the food and drug administration is not doing enough." Today, congress questioned the FDA's ability to keep our food safe. One former FDA supervisor says, the agency doesn't even come close. Former FDA Associate Commissioner William Hubbard said, "The situation approaches hopelessness in my view." Items imported from china are causing the biggest concern. One third of the US food supply comes from there. An undercover camera in China shows what's supposed to be meat filling for buns, but it's really cardboard. A chemical in wheat gluten from China caused the deadly pet food scare in the US earlier this year. And counterfeit Chinese toothpaste -- made with antifreeze -- recently turned up in the US. Caroline Smith Dewaal with the Center for Science in the Public Interest said, "Over 80 percent of consumers think 'made in china' equates to 'may be contaminated." But it's what the FDA might not be catching that's making some people nervous. Congressional investigators say the FDA has the resources to inspect only about one percent of our food imports. Committee investigator David Nelson said, "Simply stated the FDA lacks sufficient resources and authority to insure food safety, and legislation will be needed to correct these deficiencies." Now, the agency plans to streamline, closing half of its food inspection labs across the country. Investigators say that could expose Americans to even more harmful food. The FDA is also under fire for giving workers more than $8 million in bonuses to keep them from leaving the agency. Critics believe those resources could be better spent testing food and drug safety.

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