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Food regulation overhaul could be on tap

peanutsHere’s a trivia question for you: What federal agency is in charge of keeping the nation’s food safe?

If you said the Food and Drug Administration, you only get partial credit.

That’s because the FDA is one of 15 federal agencies that have some food safety enforcement authority – authority granted by more than 30 different federal laws. Still, situations such as the recent salmonella outbreak in peanut butter products happen.

Some lawmakers think it’s a too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen problem, and they have been pushing for a overhaul of the nation’s food regulation system to create a single, combined food safety agency.

“There is no one person, no individual today who is responsible for food safety,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro said to the AP. “We have an immediate crisis which requires a real restructuring.”

In the past such proposals went nowhere due to opposition from the White House. But now, resident Barack Obama’s new agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, said he is behind it. “You can’t have two systems and be able to reassure people you’ve got the job covered,” Vilsack told the AP.

As Lawyers USA has reported, the recent salmonella outbreak has led to a plethora of litigation (see here, here and here for related stories).

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