Monday, December 03, 2007


Like it or not, we count on the Food and Drug Administration to establish and maintain standards of quality and honesty when it comes to foods, medications, nutritional supplements, and the like. Currently involved in defining "gluten-free," the FDA also went after the French Meadow Bakery in 2006 after the bakery proved slow in removing the wheat-free label from its spelt products.

The FDA is, of course, hardly above criticism. The latest comes in the form of yet another report, entitled "FDA Science and Mission at Risk," that finds that consumers are at risk due to the FDA being underfunded and understaffed. As reported by Julie Schmit of USA Today, foodmakers are only inspected about once every ten years, poor IT at the agency results in slow responses to product complaints, and FDA inspections of the food supply have dropped 78% over the past 35 years due to inadequate FDA funding combined with dramatic increases in products, to cite just three of the worrisome findings.

According to "FDA Science and Mission at Risk," taxpayers contribute about 1.5 cents per day to the agency, but a contribution in the vicinity of 3 cents per day would enable the agency to better fulfill its mission. That would mean paying about $11 per year instead of $5.50 for FDA services—certainly food for thought during a big election year.

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