Snap Fact #174

With Mad Cow Returning Republicans Want To Scuttle Meat Inspections While President Obama Wants The FDA To Do Its Job!
You can't make this stuff up. If the Republicans win the presidency and the Congress this November they have announced that they will do away with several valuable agencies. One of these is the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Although they don't do a perfect job, they are the only buffer between the consumer and those who would have no compunction about putting tainted, unhealthy, mismeasured, or mislabeled foods and drugs on to the market. One might argue that their funding should be increaes so they have the tools and the personnel to step up their efforts to protect us.

The 111th Congress enacted the FDA Food and Drug Administration administered Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) which was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011. This is the first comprehensive reform of FDA food safety policy since the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was enacted in 1938. In the 74 years since the original act, the food safety programs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service) and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) have been modified but only in a piecemeal fashion. 

The most important policy change contained in the FSMA is that it authorizes and mandates that the FDA pursue a science-based and a risk-based food safety policy. Policies based on science incorporate considerations of the level of risk in designing a regulatory framework. Such an approach recognizes that resource limitations require identification of the greatest risks and that those resources should be focused on the greatest opportunities and benefits to reduce risk. 

In 2010, the National Academy of Sciences gave strong endorsement for the need to adopt a risk based approach to food safety. Arguably, while the FDA has pursued elements of a science and risk-based approach, this mandate gives the FDA authority to implement this approach.
To provide an up-to-date enforcement registry, all food handling facilities are required to register with the FDA every two years and cannot be sold in interstate commerce without being registered. FDA’s authority to regulate farms has been an issue since its creation in 1938. The power to cancel registration then becomes a tool for enforcing the law. The FDA has now been given the power to investigate a facility if it believes that there is a reasonable probability that use or exposure to a food item handled in the facility will cause serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals.

Mandatory recall is one of the few provisions of the Modernization Act that goes into effect immediately. The provision will likely reduce the length of time that FDA spends in negotiating voluntary recalls with the companies involved. And delays in recalls can have serious health consequences.

The legislation also requires FDA to develop a consumer-friendly website to help identify food that is subject to a recall. It also requires grocery stores to provide notices about recalls to customers when they are shopping. Currently consumers receive little or no in-store messaging, which leaves many standing in the grocery store wondering about a current recall and whether something they purchased last week was involved.

While the 111th Congress The 111th Congress, under the leadership of President Obama, made more laws affecting more Americans since the “Great Society” legislation of the 1960s, the 112th has been quite the opposite. Not only have they produced little meaningful legislation, they have irresponsibly slowed, blocked, and stopped so much legislation that would have helped the country get back on track faster. When you know the facts, ask yourself - do you want the 113th Congress to be like the 111th or the 112th?