by Marion Nestle
Feb 2 2009

Food industry wants stronger FDA?

Food safety must be becoming a huge problem for the food industry.  A group of ten food trade associations, one of them the Grocery Manufacturers of America, is calling on Congress to give the FDA the resources and power to impose stronger food safety regulations.  Really?  Have food companies finally figured out that a strong FDA would be good for business (consumer confidence, level playing field)?  Or are they thinking that this will give them the chance to write the regulations?

  • I can’t help but wonder if the current peanut butter crisis hasn’t played a role in GMA’s announcement. Only a few minutes ago, I read a Reuter’s story which stated that organic food sales – while growing at a dramatically slower pace as opposed to a year ago – are still growing. If food manufacturers are smart, they’re starting to realize there’s little room for growth if people are too terrified to purchase their goods.

  • Ansley Watson

    Giving the FDA more responsibility would also give the GMA and other food distributors yet another way to share the blame when unsafe food is inevitably found again. If the past is an indication of government food regulation efficiency, the FDA would not be able to consistently monitor everyone to ensure safety.

    Stronger FDA regulations are probably desirable, but implementing them will be challenging.

  • Payten Carroll

    I agree with Ansley, this is just a way for the GMA and other trade organizations to do some great PR and push the blame. The more stringent restrictions would not impact them as much as it would the food industry. However any lobbying effort to make food safety regulation stricter, on the behalf of the distributers is going to help as long as they don’t back down from this position after the food industry throws a fit over it all.

    Implementing the stricter regulations at the current status quo would be a challenge however if more funding and power was given to both the FDA and USDA then the problem wouldn’t be implementation anymore but rather making sure that the regulations were actually sound and not influenced by the food industry. When the food pyramid was first created it was suppose to showcase sound nutrition, and look at what it is today and how it’s implemented. Implementation is only half the problem when the regulations that you have are not in the best interest of the American public, but rather the factory farms and major food production conglomerates (i.e. Monsanto, Cargo, ConAgra, etc.) that control the entire food industry as well as the nutritional value and overall safety of the food that ends up on our plates.

  • MMc

    Yes it would be lovely if the FDA could do this job – but more regulation will end up hurting the small local producers. In fact this is one method the large corporations have used to keep small producers (who are not likely to be the problem) down. What we need is a decentralized food system. A local based, small scale system. We need to set up our incentive structure and regulations to support the small producers. There is much less likely to be contamination in small scale operations – and when there is it affects fewer products and people.