Monday 29 May 2017

OMB Says Food Agency Merger Is Next

In its Friday edition, The Hagstrom Report said Office of Management and Budget Director for Management, Jeff Zients, said that if Congress grants Obama the power to consolidate federal agencies, the first proposal will be to merge the six business-oriented agencies, folding together the Commerce Department’s core business and trade functions, the Small Business Administration, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.

 

Food Safety News has raised some interesting points comparing the different approaches of FSIS and the FDA. The FDA, as I have bemoaned, should take an approach more like FSIS – testing instead of merely issuing guidance documents. The ill effects of its current approach can be seen in the Jensen recall.

My view is that while there will be growing pains in forming a single food agency this is a needed step. The bifurcation of our food system into meat, poultry and eggs vs everything else was a legislative happenstance in 1907 (I published in Food Safety Magazine a historical overview of the FDA and USDA). It was not rooted in any reason or logical approach, merely the fact that the legislation passed separately within 24 hours of one another.

This bifurcation has to lead to issues for decades. Take the most recent example, the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act. FSMA only affects the FDA because it amended the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act, which the FDA enforces, not the Meat Inspection Act, which the USDA enforces. There are already issues with the FDA operating under FSMA while the USDA and FSIS do not.

The problem is not a single agency, it’s a bifurcated approach to food safety.

It’s time for a single food agency, with a single approach to food safety.

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