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Clinton Zooms In On Food Safety

As Americans celebrated the Fourth of July around their barbecue grills, President Clinton called Saturday for tighter food safety rules and new government research on preventing contamination.

Mr. Clinton said he wanted to use his weekly radio address, recorded before he flew home from Hong Kong, to relay "what I'm doing to make sure the food and drinks we serve our families this Independence Day and every day are safe."

He announced a plan to create, with the Agriculture and Health and Human Services departments, a joint institute of food safety research that would coordinate all federal research programs, including those conducted with the private sector and academia.

It is anticipated the institute would develop faster and more accurate methods of identifying foodborne hazards, and more effective ways of preventing contamination at each step of food production, the president said.

He added an appeal to Congress for $101 million to implement his broader food-safety initiative, including expanded surveillance, inspection, and early-warning systems. Thus far, the House has voted to provide just $16.8 million of the president's request. The Senate Appropriations committee approved only $2.6 million.

Following up on a 2-month-old Food and Drug Administration announcement that unpasteurized juices would soon be required to carry warning labels, Mr. Clinton said work on the federal regulation is completed, and it will take effect in time for the fall apple cider season.

"These warnings will help families make better decisions about the juice they buy," he said.