business news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times reports that the Safe Food Act has been introduced in the US Congress, with one of its goals to be to establish a single food safety regulatory agency, as opposed to the current situation in which the responsibilities are split up among various departments and agencies.

Ironically, according to the NYT, one of the co-sponsors is Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Connecticut), who was stricken with salmonella poisoning at age 2.

This is the sixth year that the legislation has been introduced, but only one Republican is supporting the bill, according to the NYT, and it is considered a non-starter by most political analysts.

The move is supported by a group called Safe Tables Our Priority (STOP), which has released a report describing how 5,000 people die every year from preventable food-borne diseases, and what measures the group would like to see enacted by Congress to prevent such occurrences in the future.
KC's View:
It was three or four years ago that Tim Hammonds, president of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), stood up at its annual convention in Chicago and called for just such a single agency approach to food safety -- not knowing, of course, that food safety and food security would become a much more pressing topic because of the world’s geopolitical situation.

Hammonds’ approach was largely dismissed by many of the other trade associations in the food industry, and it hasn’t happened. Not yet, anyway.

But here’s our question.

Wasn’t the Department of Homeland Security essentially created because the Bush administration wanted to centralize authority and responsibility for security issues in a single entity? And wouldn’t doing the same thing to safeguard the food supply simply make sense?

We recognize that there is a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude out there, but times are changing. These days, we believe, you have to anticipate how things can be broken in the future and then make the fixes before problems emerge.

Reactive management is inadequate management.