Marion Nestle On Food Safety

Marion Nestle, a professor in the department of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University and the author of several books on food safety, writes a column for the San Francisco Chronicle. Her latest column looks at the tasks facing Dr. Margaret Hamburg, who has been nominated by President Obama as the next administrator of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Here’s Nestle’s quick take on why reform is urgently needed:

The safety scandals of the past few years – spinach, pet food, peanut butter, and now pistachios – revealed profound weaknesses in the ability of the FDA to protect public health. Polls say nearly 75 percent of Americans are more afraid of food than they are of terrorists.

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3 Responses

  1. Well, if we consolidate the agricultural power to one or two producers, we can count on them to maintain strict quality standards right?

    • The old question of too much authority or power in too few hands. Very often, due to the impact of a larger operation failing and to the concentration of wealth, the larger operations can lobby for regulations that suit their needs and pay for studies to prove the merits of their assertions. Look very closely at Monsanto. The largest company in the ‘agri-chemical’ industrial complex. There is growing evidence of strong arm tactics towards small producers and a real effective system of placing their ex-employees into the regulatory structure that is supposed to keep their industry in check. I think that it may be more work to monitor smaller growers, but that with a smaller grower there is far greater accountability to the people that they grow for. IF they make big mistakes they risk losing everything. WIth a greater risk comes a greater attention to detail and adherence to the agreed upon parameters of operation.

  2. There’s an interesting bit of related news in the New York Times today. Big farms are paying for private inspectors to do safety inspections that the FDA can’t:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/17/business/17leafy.html

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