Published on: March 4, 2009The US Senate will consider new legislation that would provide the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with new power to order product recalls and compel companies to disclose their internal records, while taking what experts call a risk-driven approach to inspections. The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act was introduced by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) and Sen. Judd Gregg (R-New Hampshire), and already has garnered support from the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), and United Fresh Produce Association.
“Over the last year, we’ve seen major recalls of peanut butter spiked with salmonella, spinach laced with e-coli and chili loaded with botulism,” Durbin said while introducing the bill. “These are not isolated incidents and are the result of an outdated, underfunded and overwhelmed food-safety system.”
The Senate bill, however, differs from one under consideration in the House of Representatives, which would create a separate food safety agency and mandate a regular schedule of inspections regardless of risk assessments.
- KC's View:
- I’ve long thought that creating a single food safety agency is a good idea, but supporters of the Senate approach to food safety suggest that the bureaucratic costs alone breaking up the FDA and configuring new agencies would eat up precious funding that could be better used in strengthening and streamlining the current infrastructure. I’m not entirely sure about this, but these days the phrase “eat up precious funding” certainly has a lot of currency.
What worries me is that the people who are trying to figure out how to fix the problem may be the same people who have allowed food safety issues to become such a major concern to both consumers and industry. I don't care which proposal gets passed as long as the result is good for consumers and the result is complete transparency and traceability…and that the focus is the FDA and not CYA.