by Marion Nestle
Mar 5 2009

Food Safety Legislation: Fix FDA vs. Fix the System?

Senator Dick Durbin (Dem-IL) has introduced The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act to give this beleaguered agency the tools and resources to do its job properly.  The proposed Act got immediate endorsements from food industry trade groups: grocery manufacturers, producers of fresh vegetables, and producers of frozen foods, for example.

How come food lobbying groups suddenly want a stronger FDA?  No doubt because the alternative is a single food safety agency that would impose real rules with real teeth, and would oversee the safety of food from farm to table.  Rosa DeLauro introduced just such a bill in the House.

And how’s this for today’s rumors (most definitely unconfirmed): Michael Osterholm is up for USDA undersecretary for food safety and Michael Taylor for head of the White House Office of Food Safety.  Caroline Smith DeWaal, a strong consumer advocate for foods safety is out of the running; she works for Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).  These are just rumors.  If they turn out too be true, I will have more to say about the potential nominees.

  • dancingnancie

    I saw this video today that shows how different news outlets are reporting the issues on the FDA. It’s interesting to see the difference in perspectives…

  • Cynthia, TX

    Marion, can you please point me in the right direction on this rumor that the new bill will element organic gardening. Of course there is a viral email going around that just made it to my in box and it’s claiming this. I want to make sure so I can try and squash it if possible.


  • Adam Vignola

    This is a direct result of your work Marion. I attended your NYU lecture in February and you seemed to echo the “Obama” mantra. “The government can fix it attititude.” It brings all farming under one government entity. Bravo! You can’t own your own animals for personal consumption without submitting to a government inspection and mandated regulation. Although, the HR bill doesn’t state a ‘ban of organic farming’ there is the potential for federal dictatorship regarding the use of fertilizers, feed, and seeds. ANOTHER, problem is it (HR bill) will add overhead (thus expense) to the farmer and therefore the consumer. The problem is the HR bill assumes control of all food production anywhere in the US that ‘may” be destined for interstate retail. So, since your back yard garden is destined for consumption (albeit personal) the HR bill gives the government the authority to monitor it. YES, hysterics. No one in DC is interested in anyone’s back yard garden, however the legislation clearly opens up the possibility of federal inspection. Good job Marion!!

  • ikon

    look, all one ever need do is 1) learn who wrote a proposed Bill, and 2) who’s taken a ‘campaign donation’ in exchange for his/her support of the Bill … who wrote this? allegedly Monsanto, Cargill, ADM, Tyson et al … whom do i suspect of under-the-table sales? check out sponsors and co-sponsors … excepting the perennial follower-sheep, of course …