This past summer's massive egg recall underscores the need to better manage federal food safety regulations.
After the U.S. public learned that thousands had been sickened by salmonella-contaminated eggs in August, and that more than 500 million eggs had been recalled, it also learned that the large farm producers in question had never been inspected by the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) which has oversight of the safety of eggs still in their shells.
It also came to light that new egg safety regulations, which might have helped avoid the recall, had been put into effect just after the recall. Unfortunately, they “were devised by scientists nearly two decades ago, but regulators bickered over who should have jurisdiction over the regulatory efforts,” according to a report on August 25th in The New York Times.
This is hardly the first time such conflicts have come to light, and in other cases the finger points just as directly to USDA, which regulates food safety in other parts of the food supply chain. Food Management has weighed in on this particular issue before (see “It's Time to Regulate Our Food Safety Agencies”).
Readers of this magazine who are interested in expressing their own views — particularly in light of increased use of fresh, rather than processed products in their operations — can make their opinions known to Congress. A comprehensive food safety bill that has passed the House of Representatives has been delayed in the Senate since last year (sound familiar?). Among other things, it would require tighter food safety inspections and authorize the FDA to initiate recalls, a power it currently does not have.
If you'd like to know more about the bill, and which organizations have taken a stance — pro and con — about it, you can do so here:
If you do have an opinion, you can also write to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) who both have significant influence over the bill's movement.