In a break with past food industry positions, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) has called for a single agency to be made responsible for all food safety questions. Biotech foods, “functional foods” and dietary supplements are blurring the traditional definition of “food,” says FMI, and do not fit neatly into the existing regulatory framework. Mass communications and the globalization of food marketing demand quick, efficient responses to food safety problems. Food industry groups had supported better cooperation and coordination among the nearly 20 federal agencies and departments with food safety regulatory rties rather than a single food safety agency.
FMI president Tim Hammonds noted that FMI is not calling for the creation of yet another federal bureaucracy, but rather concentrating food safety regulation within an existing agency. Other industry groups have indicated a willingness to consider FMI’s proposal. FMI will brief members of the congressional Agriculture Committees and has given its position paper to FDA, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and other regulatory groups.
Consolidating food safety regulation in one agency would necessitate changes in the law and shifting of resources and turf among agencies and oversight committees, a Herculean task in Washington.