Legislation & Lobbying

Bush Calls for More Food & Product Oversight

Acknowledging flaws in the current regulatory system, the Bush administration and the FDA made parallel proposals yesterday calling for enhanced measures to protect consumers from tainted food and dangerous products.

Their plan calls for stricter safety rules and more severe fines, and it would increase the authority of the federal Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission by giving them the power to require recalls of dangerous items, reports the Los Angeles Times. The plan also would give the FDA and the commission more authority to regulate foreign manufacturers who ship products to the United States.

It is generally acknowledged that the government lacks the resources to inspect manufacturing facilities, and hence must rely on companies to comply with safety measures, the newspaper writes. However, critics have been complaining for years about a lack of funding and lackluster federal response to known safety issues.

“I welcome the acknowledgment by the administration that we need increased authority and increased power to better protect the American people, but I’m also very concerned by the lack of detail on how we assure this is going to occur,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.). She chairs a House panel that funds the FDA and other consumer protection agencies.

Funding to implement the plan has not yet been arranged, and is expected to be included in the 2009 budget. A coalition of consumer and industry groups says the current $450 billion annual FDA budget should be doubled, but it is doubtful that this will occur by 2009.

Chicago Tribune (“Plan adds muscle to import law”)

Boston Globe (“Edwards calls for head of consumer safety head”)

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