A conference in St. Louis of health officials from the community level to the Washington level focuses on keeping our food supply safe in a changing world.

The Food and Drug Administration’s "Food Protection Plan" is a response to a number of recent food-borne outbreaks. The plan was created before the recent Mexican tomato-and-pepper flap.

The state health department’s Daryel Brock says the plan is "a huge step forward" to exchanging information about food problems which are more likely because our food supply is becoming more international in origin and outside our health and safety controls. "The recent outbreaks that have been multi-state have really brought this to the forefront," he says.

Brock says there’s no easy way to tell where a box of tomatoes or a crate of peppers comes from. He says the ability to quickly backtrack food origins when outbreaks occur is critical.

Brock says that situation makes better, faster, communications within all levels of our government mandatory and emphasizes the need to communicate with food authorities in other countries.

He says he returns to his office with several ideas for things that can make the state health department more responsive in food safety. He thinks some of those things can be implemented soon.

Download Bob Priddy’s story (:60 mp3)