A study by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, titled "Enhancing Food Safety: The Role of the Food and Drug Administration," concludes that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the agency responsible for monitoring approximately 80% of the US’s food supply, is in need of a serious revamp.

The study finds that shifting to a risk-based food safety system, utilizing a research infrastructure and integrated federal, state, and local government food safety program, can go a long way towards achieving the safer food supply we all desire.

In a recent article in the Canadian Medical Association, author Nancy Benac interviewed a number of key food safety players for input on the article’s findings:

Lewis Grossman, a professor at American University’s Washington College of Law who also was a member of the committee, says the FDA is taking steps in the right direction but needs "an overall systematic approach to their food safety mission. It’s a bit scattershot right now."


Attorney Bill Marler, whose Seattle law firm specializes in food-related illnesses, says a lack of coordination among state, federal and local governments is one reason that outbreaks of foodborne illnesses aren’t identified more quickly.

FDA is "underfunded and understaffed for what we expect them to do and it’s only getting worse" as imports increase and food production becomes more complex, Marler says. "The risks are just larger. We’ve not kept up with the reality of how our food is produced."

As the continuing onslaught of outbreaks and recalls indicate, the importance of creating the best and most efficient food safety system cannot be overstated.