January 19, 2013

BAYLEN LINNEKIN: The FDA’s Pathetic Food Safety Proposal: Federal regulators want to impose costly new rules that won’t make our food any safer.

The new rules would cost about half a billion dollars per year. The cost of FSMA will be borne by farmers and food producers of all sizes. The FDA estimates the FSMA will cost America’s small farms about $13,000 each per year. Larger farms—much more capable of bearing the costs—will be out about $30,000 per year. Other food producers are likely to face varying fees. . . . In truth, the law’s real impact on food safety will be minimal.

The FSMA would permit the FDA to hire about 2,000 new food-safety inspectors in order to increase the frequency of food-safety inspections. Specifically, the proposed rules would require that “[a]ll high-risk domestic facilities must be inspected within five years of enactment and no less than every three years, thereafter.” Given that the FSMA rules are just now open to public comment and won’t be final for another year or two, this translates into a likely total of exactly two inspections of what the FDA refers to as the most “high-risk domestic facilities” over the next decade.

How’s that for impact?

Even if these inspections were to take place more than once in a blue moon, just how effective at preventing foodborne illness are FDA inspections? Not very.