December 20, 2010

FDA Needs a New Role

Richard Williams

Senior Affiliated Scholar
Summary

While the food safety bill passed by Congress this weekend includes measures such as an increase in inspections, it's unlikely that these changes will have a significant impact on improving food safety.

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While the food safety bill passed by Congress this weekend includes measures such as an increase in inspections, it's unlikely that these changes will have a significant impact on improving food safety.

Many scientists and statisticians have argued for years that it is not possible to sample your way to safety. The number of samples that would be needed to detect pathogens is too large to be done with any reasonable number of samples.

Rather than having the FDA focus on policy, the government can help with accountability, by investing in tracking problem products back to the source.  The FDA can help by discovering food safety root causes and posting them on the Web.

As firms become more accountable for problems with enhanced trace backs and widespread consumer information, food safety becomes a competitive margin so that it is now unprofitable not to adopt workable solutions.