The Obama administration is proposing a new government agency dedicated to keeping the nation’s food safe. It would merge parts of the Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services.
The proposal comes after outbreaks of illness linked to chicken, eggs, peanuts and cantaloupe. More than a dozen federal agencies oversee food safety, and consumer advocates have long called for giving it a single home.
Currently, the Agriculture Department oversees the safety and inspections of meat and processed eggs and the Food and Drug Administration oversees safety of most other foods. The new agency would coordinate with state and local health departments, a job that is now mostly handled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2010, Congress passed a sweeping food safety law that gave the government new powers to inspect processing plants, order recalls and impose stricter standards for imported foods. It also requires stricter food safety standards on farms and in manufacturing plants.
Despite this, the CDC estimates that there are 48 million food borne illnesses a year from contaminated foods. More bureaucracy is the answer every time.