MANY WILL REMEMBER the creation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Established in 2002 as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America a year earlier, DHS combined 22 different federal departments and agencies into one huge Cabinet-level agency. As massive as that government shift was, its impact has been felt mostly by the people who have worked for the consolidated agencies — and anyone who has had to travel by air since 9/11.
Now, imagine another DHS-type consolidation multiplied to the Nth degree — a “DHS on steroids” that no man, woman, boy, girl, or any edible thing in America could avoid. That’s what we would have if U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut get their way with their proposed Safe Food Act (SFA) of 2015.
Introducing their bill for a fifth time, the lawmakers want to consolidate the 15 agencies that currently have some role in food safety — from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to the National Marine Fisheries Service — into an “independent establishment” called the Food Safety Administration. Durbin says the SFA would, among other things:
• Transfer and consolidate food safety authorities for inspections, enforcement, and labeling into a single food safety agency.
• Provide authority to require the recall of unsafe food.
• Authorize enforcement actions to strengthen contaminant performance standards.
• Improve foreign food import inspections.
• Require full food traceability to better identify sources of outbreaks.
There’s not much of an argument that the current U.S. food-safety system is fragmented and often inefficient, with overlaps in some cases and gaps in others, and that it often just doesn’t make sense. We’ll get into that in next month’s column and suggest why the SFA might have to be restructured and introduced several more times before it has any real shot at passage.
This column is sponsored by Adams Cold Storage LLC.
column by BEN ADAMS, JR.
BIO: Ben Adams, Jr., is an owner and president of Adams Cold Storage LLC in Auburndale. He has been directly involved in citrus production, warehousing and distribution, as well as state and community support, since 1980. His facility incorporates 200,000 square feet of multitemperature warehousing, with an extensive expansion project currently under way.