Last week, the Grocery Manufacturers Association told lawmakers that if the FDA doubled its safety oversight budget by increasing fees from food companies, they’d have to raise prices to make up the cost. That’s right: affordable food or safe food. Choose one!
“Inevitably there would be an increase in the cost of the products that is passed on to the consumer,” Cal Dooley, the group’s president and a former Democratic lawmaker, told a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee. “You are further compounding the rapid increase in food prices, the likes of which we haven’t seen in recent years.”
The chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. John D. Dingell (D., Mich.), responded that better oversight would translate into lower legal fees because it would reduce lawsuits, but we have a feeling the food companies would pass the cost directly to the supermarket shelves and take a wait-and-see (and then profit from) approach to future legal bills.
With the legislative changes, “you would get safe food from places like China, where they sell all manner of crap,” Dingell told Dooley.
Under the proposal, food producers would have to pay annual registration fees of $2,000 per facility, generating $600 million for FDA food-safety activities, more than doubling the current budget. The FDA would be required to conduct inspections every two years of both domestic and foreign makers of drugs and medical devices.