Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Need transparency for food/drug safety

February 3, 2009
In the past several weeks, we have read a lot of news and development on Salmonella from tainted peanut butter (see the articles on the right side of this blog). Even President Obama said that “we (the administration) are going to be doing a complete review of FDA operations”.

It is clear that federal agencies, such as FDA, are often at the mercy of available federal funding and deregulation of each administration. If the FDA were consumers’ first line of defense (on food and drug safety), then what’s our second line of defense when federal funding is insufficient and/or the administration thought complete deregulation was better (like last eight years)?

The sourcing and outsourcing network among the food industry works very efficient. Salmonella virus from the tainted peanut butter in a Georgia processing plant traveled to uninformed consumers so fast that even the FDA could not act quickly enough to prevent some sickness and deaths. If the food/drug safety law requires certain transparency on the sourcing and outsourcing of food/drug industries, say through an updated website publication, then concerned consumers for their purchases would have a source of information to base on.

Of course, increasing the funds and manpower for FDA is important and welcomed because this is our first line of defense. Furthermore, we in this blog would like to see a law requiring food and drug companies to disclose the source of their ingredients (at least when inquired). A law like COOL (Country of Origin on meats and seafood) would be a great start. From there, consumers’ second line of defense on food/drug safety can begin to take shape.

In this downturn economy, such law on processed food and drugs will not increase the government’s fiscal budgets. And with more transparency to our food and drugs, it would in the long run help improving our general health and reducing the burden of our health care system.