“I call it ‘Katrina on your plate.’ You’ve got an agency, the FDA, that’s understaffed, under-funded, without leadership, and it’s not doing its job. And it’s causing a real life suffering and death for people,” said Andrew Kimbrell, director of the Center for Food Safety, a nonprofit watchdog group in Washington.

While this statement, at first, seems a bit harsh, consider the number of Americans and their pets, who have become ill by eating tainted food in the last year. It is surprisingly accurate.

“I believe the food safety system is broken. It’s collapsing,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Connecticut, told CNN “We’re unable to protect the public health. We’re unable to protect public confidence in the food supply.”

It is hardly surprising that the system is failing. There are 12 Federal agencies currently trying to oversee the safety of the US food supply and there are 35 laws, which govern that oversight. Combine that with the budget shortfalls affecting those agencies and the staff cuts associated with those shortfalls and it is easy to see why the system is breaking down.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Connecticut has introduced a bill to the House, while Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York have introduced a similar bill in the Senate.

While it is desirable to improve the safety of the food supply, it is questionable if a centralized agency will be able make such improvements, if it is still chronically under funded and therefore understaffed.

The FDA and USDA feel they are working well together and the CDC has stated publicly that their statistics indicate that overall the food supply is getting safer. They are also concerned that a larger centralized agency might make it even harder to ensure the safety of the food supply.

It might be cost effective to merge the agencies into a single entity, so that duplicated efforts could be minimized, and therefore allow for additional resources to be utilized to ease budget shortfalls.

In any case, coming up with a safer food supply is very important. Americans should be able to trust that the food they are purchasing to feed their families is safe. When the produce, meat, dairy products, eggs and processed items they are buying is contaminated in the field, by poor agricultural practices or improperly maintained equipment that indicates that the needed inspections are not being made.

Furthermore, the United Sates Congress has spent much time taking about making Americans safer from terrorism. If we cannot keep our food supply safe from field, to processing facilities, to warehouse, to grocery store to table, then we have a recipe for disaster – of the natural or man made variety.

All quotes in this post come from this CNN.com article by David S. Martin

Be Sociable, Share!