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Food and drug reform

(article, Caroline Cummins)

We've noted the troubles of the FDA and the USDA on these pages before. So it wasn't a surprise when the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce committee, John Dingell (D-Mich.), recently introduced a reform bill aimed at solving some of the FDA's problems.

The basic idea? Slap food and drug companies with fees and, with the proceeds, conduct more frequent food-safety inspections. The grocery industry was quick to decry the proposed legislation, known as the Food and Drug Administration Globalization Act of 2008, as creating "unnecessary regulatory burdens, over-broad enforcement power, and would likely result in a further increase in food prices."

The Grocery Manufacturers Association agreed on the overall need to "improve, modernize and strengthen our nation's food-safety system," but failed, in its press releases, to offer any alternative solutions. (However, the industry association does have a new website called Keep Food Safe.)

Dingell's plan goes beyond just fees and inspections, calling, for example, for foods to be labeled by country of origin and whether or not they were treated with carbon monoxide. Take a look at Dingell's outline and decide for yourself; it's available in a downloadable PDF.