Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs – February 7th, 2003

In the News…
Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs

February 7, 2003

EPA Sponsors First National Public Forum to Improve Water Infrastructure

On January 31st in Washington, the EPA hosted its first conference drawing national attention to wastewater and water infrastructure issues affecting the country. Televised by C-SPAN, the event brought together 280 key stakeholders and leaders from business, government and academia to exchange ideas on ways to meet the challenges of water infrastructure management and investment. The main focus of the conference was on financing the growing needs for replacement, improvement and expansion of our current water infrastructure. EPA Assistant Administrator for Water G. Tracy Mehan III presented a multifaceted strategy, which included improved management, smart water usage and better utilization of price mechanisms.

For more information about the forum, please visit:

Majority of Large U.S. Meat Plants Fail to Meet Safety Standards

According to information released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), approximately 60 percent of 35 large U.S. meat plants have not met federal food safety regulations for preventing E.coli bacteria from infecting their products. The findings, reported by Reuters, come in the wake of last year’s string of meat recalls and meat-related illnesses and are based on an assessment of food safety procedures put into place by beef slaughter and grinding plants. The assessment was the first examination of the USDA’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point system, in which plants install and monitor safety checkpoints throughout their facilities. USDA officials assert the public should not be alarmed because the violations stem primarily from plant design, and not actual food safety problems. The plants in violation of federal health regulations have been given 30 days to make the necessary improvements.

For additional information on the Federal government’s food safety efforts, visit:

FDA Proposes New Legislation Aimed at Protecting U.S. Food Supply

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced two new proposed regulations designed to ensure security of the U.S. food supply, in accordance with the Bioterrorism Act of 2002. One proposal would require food imports to be registered with the agency prior to entering the country. The rule does not apply to food carried in personal baggage for private consumption, nor to meat, poultry or egg products already regulated by the USDA. The second provision would require domestic and foreign food facilities that manufacture, process, pack or hold food for U.S. consumption to register with the FDA by mid-December. Certain establishments may be exempt, including restaurants, farms and facilities that are already regulated by the USDA. Both regulations are open to public comment for 60 days.

For more information, please visit: and

Administration Launches New Rulemaking Website for Public Comment

The White House Office of Management and Budget recently launched, a new web site that will enable public citizens to search, review and comment on hundreds of open rules listed from all federal agencies. The system is designed to save nearly $100 million by consolidating the collection of public comments into one system. “This initiative will help assure the public that they have a role in making regulatory decisions and that it can be done in a more timely and efficient manner,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Linda Fisher. The web site is one of the first of its kind and is part of the White House “E-Government” initiative, an effort to streamline citizen-government communications and cut costs.

To visit the website, please go to:

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