What You Thought
We asked readers whether more regulation and oversight of America's food supply is needed. Here's a sample of responses:
We have the healthiest food supply in the entire world. Creating another government office will not improve food safety, but will be just another step toward socialism. What's next? When you can and cannot have sex?
Our government has ruined our economy. We have to keep them away from our food.
Ron Herman, M.D.
According to the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year, related to food hazards, at a cost to the taxpayer of about $7 billion. While this appalling problem in food safety was growing, the number of FDA field staff dropped by 12 percent just since 2003.
Federal inspections of food production, imports, storage and distribution dropped by 47 percent (in this time frame) while the need for such inspections has increased dramatically, particularly with burgeoning imports. Some of the more obvious recent consequences: the melamine contamination of baby food and pet food, the salmonella outbreak related to Mexican green peppers, the contamination of Peter Pan peanut butter, the massive recall of ground beef with E. coli, etc.
We not only need tighter regulations, but Congress must adequately fund enforcement resources.
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimate that the annual direct health care costs of overweight and obesity in the U.S. (prevention, diagnosis, treatment) is about $64 billion with indirect costs (lost wages and premature death) not a lot less.
Regulation in pursuit of a leaner body public can be problematic, and requires great care, but more energy and funding in the area of promoting better eating habits and exercise is certainly worthwhile.
Joseph B. Steinman
None of these regulations will make a difference until people learn to discipline themselves.
There is no doubt in my mind that much more government regulation is crucial to our health, our happiness and our future. …