Law For Food: The law affects what you eat. What you buy to eat affects the law.

Food Safety Czar
3 May 2007, 10:07 am
Filed under: food politics, Production, Regulation

Yesterday Dr. David W.K. Acheson was appointed as Assistant Commissioner for Food Protection — a new position commonly dubbed “Food Czar” in the press. This new position was created in response public outcry about the safety of the U.S. food supply following the recent e. coli outbreak in spinach, the salmonella outbreak in peanut butter, and the presence of the toxin melamine which has been discovered in animal feed both for pets and for animals intended for human consumption.

Dr. Acheson will report directly to the FDA Commissioner of Food and Drugs, Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach. The FDA is an agency of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (although the FDA predates that department by almost 70 years). I was unable to find a job description for the position outside of the Press Release, and suspect that the position was created with Dr. Acheson in mind. If true, then

A quick google search leaves me with the impression that Dr. Acheson will focus his priorities in two areas:

  1. Educating consumers about food-borne illness and the importance of washing and thoroughly cooking foods before consumption.
  2. “Fixing” the U.S. food supply by requiring or encouraging measures such as irradiation of food, E. Coli vaccination of cows, and so on, rather than fixing the systemic problems with food production which have led to such outbreaks.

This is a hunch. I would like to be proved wrong. But I suspect that this is the sort of position that is created and filled to give the impression that the Government is responding to public concern without taking the necessary steps to address the issues. The term “X Czar” fills me with something other than hope, in much the same way as the term “War on X” does.


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