A group of public health experts and scholars met today to discuss possible reforms to overhaul the government's food safety program.
Kirk Smith supervises the state's unit that investigated food borne disease. He says one way to improve the system is to have better food safety regulations.
"But the other thing is, OK, there are always going to be outbreaks, no matter how much we try. So we need, as a robust and efficient public health system as possible, to quickly detect and solve outbreaks when they happen," said Smith.
Smith's team is responsible for tracing the recent salmonella outbreak to peanut butter.
He says Minnesota has become a national model for monitoring food illnesses, because it is quick to conduct lab work on dangerous bacteria strains. The state Health Department is also routinely interviewing patients affected by food borne illnesses.
One proposal that came up during today's roundtable was the creation of regional centers around the country that could investigate food illnesses in the same way as Minnesota does.