USDA and FDA Need More Power to Protect Food Supply

Apr 25, 2003

By George Anderson

The Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, issued a report saying the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) need to have “clear authority” to protect the nation’s food supply.

The report cited cases where meat plants being investigated for contaminants were granted restraining orders as examples of how processors have effectively kept agencies from enforcing existing laws.

According to an Associated Press report, food safety officials at the USDA disagree with the reports findings. They believe the department has the necessary power to close plants not meeting requirements.

Robert Buchanan, senior science adviser for the FDA’s food safety division, told AP that officials there agreed with the report.

Moderator’s Comment: Should food retailers support
the call for the USDA and FDA to have clearer Congressional authority to protect
the nation’s food supply?

Elsa Murano, undersecretary of food safety, USDA says
that giving the department more authority would not prevent companies from seeking,
and judges from granting, restraining orders against the agency in its efforts
to protect the food supply.

Ms. Murano makes a legitimate point. Ultimately, however,
we believe the only question that really needs answering is whether granting
additional authority to the two agencies will make the nation’s food supply
safer.  [George
Anderson – Moderator

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