The Congressional Research Service has just published The Federal Food Safety System: A Primer. The CRS describes the report this way:
Numerous federal, state, and local agencies share responsibilities for regulating the safety of the U.S. food supply, which many experts say is among the safest in the world. Nevertheless, critics view this system as lacking the organization and resources to adequately combat foodborne illness, which sickens an estimated 76 million people and kills an estimated 5,000 each year in this country.
The 110th Congress may face calls for a review of federal food safety agencies and authorities, and proposals for reorganizing them. Among the issues likely to arise are whether reform can improve oversight, and the cost to industry, consumers, and taxpayers. This report provides a brief introduction to the system and the debate on whether reorganization is needed.
The issue of reorganization of federal agencies involved in food safety will directly impact United’s call for federal regulation. It also is a hot political issue and, just yesterday, we reported that The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric would feature Senator Durbin, the assistant democratic leader of the Senate calling for a single federal agency to be in charge of food safety.
This piece is an excellent six-page primer on where we stand now, which is the starting point for the debate that we can expect over the next few months. You can read the report right here.