As part of Marler Clark’s work with Outbreak, Inc. I will be speaking at the Northwest Food Processors Association Executive Summit in Bend, Oregon on Saturday. I will be a member of a panel discussing the numerous pending food safety bills, and their potential impact. While preparing for the talk, I found Senator Judd Gregg’s (NH) Op-Ed regarding one of the more prominent pieces of pending legislation, "The Food Safety Modernization Act."
Bill has discussed much of the pending legislation on his blog. One of the focuses of the Food Safety Modernization Act is increased inspection at food processing plants. Part of the proposal would base the frequency of inspection on the level of risk purportedly associated with the particular food being produced. The hope is that by prioritizing inspection based on perceived risk, that limited regulatory dollars will be well spent.
I wonder what incentives such a system would create. On the positive side, a business would be motivated to create a safe product, because, among other reasons, their procedure will be less encumberd by inspection. On the other hand, I worry that there might be an incentive to downplay the potential risks involved with a product in order to streamline a process. We are a long way from having a law on the books, but it will be interesting to see how it plays out.