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Food-agency woes

(article, Kim Carlson)

Back in the old days, when I was more trusting (or just less informed) about where our food comes from, discussion of the FDA had a soporific effect on me; I'd hear that acronym and start yawning. But with food-safety issues popping up every week, that's no longer the case. 

On Friday, a new report came out about how woefully underequipped the FDA is to deal with such issues as food contamination and the safety of imported foods. A team of outside scientists decried the ineffectiveness of the agency, mostly because it's stretched to the breaking point financially. Most individuals with computers have better systems that the FDA: Recently, during the investigation of an E. coli contamination, the agency's system went belly up. 

Why is the FDA so underfunded? Over on Eating Liberally today, Marion Nestle gives a succinct explanation of the history of problems at the FDA. Politics and commercial pressure, in her view, play big roles. She even suggests that corporations may wish for greater overview from the FDA. Is that reassuring?