Thursday, April 2, 2009

Safe Food by Marion Nestle

Safe Food, Bacteria, Biotechnology, and Bioterrorism

This is a great read. Below is a list of some stated concerns from the book:

1. The increasing concentration of food producers and distributors into larger and larger units
2. The overproduction and overabundance of food in the United States
3. The competitiveness among food companies to encourage people to eat more food or to substitute their products for those of competing companies
4. The relentless pressures exerted by food companies on government agencies to make favorable regulatory decisions
5. The invocation of science by food companies as a means to achieve commercial goals
6. The clash in values among stakeholders in the food system: industry, government, and consumers
7. The ways in which such themes demonstrate that food is political

The Complete Review wrote this:

A basic problem that Nestle identifies is the system of governmental oversight and regulation: "a system breathtaking in its irrationality: 35 separate laws administered by 12 agencies in six cabinet-level departments". Among the most amusing (and disturbing) examples of just how absurd the system is: the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) regulates beef broth and dehydrated chicken soup, while the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regulates dehydrated beef soup and chicken broth. (Regardless of whether one is for more or less governmental regulation and oversight, everyone would clearly benefit from a single agency handling all food-safety related issues -- but bureaucrats desperate to hold onto their little fiefdoms (and some in industry, who understand that it is easier to manipulate a divided bureaucracy) have managed to prevent any such sensible consolidation of responsibilities.

We made an earlier post detailing a more comprehensive list of federal, state, local, and NGO agencies involved in food safety. We are spotlighting each agency on the list here on this blog. Each agency spotlight includes the scope of their oversight, their specific role in regards to food safety, and contact info.

1 comment:

Mike Tracy said...

I love the author's name- almost as good as the Urologist named Wiswell.... (or Humbert Humbert,.. or: Will Brown, Dolores, Colorado.)