Food Safety with KQED Public Radio's Health Dialogues

Published on
August 20, 2009

Original post on KQED's Bay Area Bites blog. Spinach, alfalfa sprouts, peanut butter, beef...almost weekly, FDA and USDA alerts fill my inbox with notices about food recalls due to Salmonella or E. Coli. How does our food supply get contaminated? And what safeguards exist to ensure that the foods we eat are produced in safe and sanitary conditions?

In response to concerns about the food supply, President Obama called for tougher food safety measures, and in May of this year launched a Food Safety Working Group to update the system of food safety in America.

Tonight at 8pm on KQED Public Radio, Health Dialogues, takes an in-depth look at the safety of the food we eat. Host Scott Shafer begins by interviewing two voices familiar with food safety at the federal level: Michael Taylor, the newly appointed Senior Advisor to the Commissioner at the Food and Drug Administration, and Dr. David Acheson, who, until the end of July, worked as Associate Commissioner for Foods at the Food and Drug Administration.

Later in the program, award-winning health care reporter Sarah Varney looks at how proposed food safety legislation in Washington could affect California's food industry. We also pay a visit to the kitchen of UC Davis food safety expert Christine Bruhn, to hear about tips on consumer food safety in the home. Research shows eating fish contaminated with mercury may cause brain damage or learning disabilities.

The FDA regulates commercial fish, but what about sport fishing? Health Dialogues looks into the safety of fishing in the golden state. Sport fishing may not always be safe, but growing your own food must be safe, right? Not necessarily. Gardeners, especially urban gardeners, should always test the soil for lead and other toxins before planting. You'll hear a piece about a group that helps to plant gardens, and test the soil, in Alameda County.

Health Dialogues also visits two grocery stores in San Francisco's Outer Mission with food inspector Sheldon Lew to see what the food inspection process looks like. Lew talks about what red flags he looks for during food inspections. Experience an audio slideshow of the food inspection tour.

Also, check out an audio slideshow of foods imported into the United States with FDA inspectors at the Los Angeles Port of San Pedro. Visit for more details! Audio is archived online at 12pm, Friday August 21st.