by Marion Nestle
Apr 27 2012

American Enterprise Institute advocates single food-safety agency!

Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows. 

The American Enterprise Institute, a conservative (to say the least) think tank, has just issued a report on reforming the farm bill to ensure a safer food system.  Its stunning conclusion:

More feasibly, in the short to medium term, changes in food safety regulation should aim at correcting inconsistencies or loopholes that exist in US food safety laws.

For example, policymakers could merge the FSIS and the FDA to allow for a better allocation of resources and exploit potential return to scales.

Standardizing states’ detection systems for food-borne illnesses and collecting better data about the incidence of food-borne illnesses would make firms more accountable and help construct better food safety policies.

Merge the food safety functions of USDA and FDA?  This, of course, is precisely what food safety advocates and the Government Accountability Office have been urging since the early 1990s. 

Now, maybe, it has a chance?


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  • Janet Camp
  • April 29, 2012
  • 10:04 am

There must be some ulterior motive! Would such a merger weaken some areas of authority for one or the other agency and thus weaken overall oversight.

But, I am too cynical–perhaps safe food really is in everyone’s best interest!

While I’m in favor of combining agencies for efficiency, I have two concerns. EPA, which is a combination of several other federal agencies, is still a fragmented agency which does not have a uniform consistent environmental policy to this day. Secondly, as I warned in a recent article (, having an enforcement agency also write the rules it enforces, is an invitation to corruption and takeover by the industry it regulates.

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