Food Safety: In Progress

Food Safety48 million people are sickened each year by foodborne pathogens. 3,000 are killed each year according to the CDC. For the non-Mathletes, that’s 1-in-6.1 The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) passed in 2011 was supposed to change all that. With the FSMA, for the first time, the U.S. FDA is authorized to help prevent rather than simply respond to outbreaks of foodborne illness. But 4 years later, changes are still a work in progress.

Why the FSMA?

The Food Safety Modernization Act, the biggest food-safety overhaul since 1938, came in response to a 46-state outbreak tied to salmonella at a Georgia peanut plant in 2008. Nine people died, and every year since, thousands have died from food-borne illnesses.2.

Will It Work?

The new law makes hundreds of changes. But in almost all cases, it still leaves it up to companies to decide whether they need to test the food they make for bacteria before they put it on trucks and sell it. Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner, and many others say the bill, even after all these years, won’t be enough if Congress doesn’t provide the funding the FDA has said it needs.

Way Ahead  of the FDA

As usual, the industry seems to be ahead of the government. Many leading companies have undertaken proactive approaches to food safety standards that surpass the FSMA regulatory changes (even if they get implemented). 18.7 million pounds of foods were recalled by the FDA, (the cost of which is almost incalculable). But more important than wasted food product is the impact on a brand’s reputation and the potential loss of shelf space if a product is recalled. This is why most company’s testing standards are more stringent than the government will require.

For example, the damage after a 2009 salmonella outbreak in peanut butter cost U.S. producers an estimated $1 billion, according to “Capturing Recall Costs,” a report from the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Though the recalled products came from a single Georgia processing plant, a lingering 25% nationwide sales drop in peanut butter resulted as spooked shoppers skipped PB&Js and reached for alternatives, noted The New York Times.3

The FDA has until Aug. 15 to finalize the rules governing hazards within plants like Blue Bell’s, with six other rules coming in quick succession.

Food Safety Government Liaisons

If you need assistance in working with the government when it comes to Food Safety, please contact Cansler Consulting today for a free assessment on how we can help your company.


Cansler Consulting government relations lobbyists At Cansler Consulting we understand that in Washington, D.C. change is the only constant. Advocacy in Washington is also changing and we are at the forefront using new technologies and data to help us focus on strategies that improve our client's return on investment. Our core lobbying strategies are driven by the value at stake from federal legislative & regulatory actions. Leading studies indicate that today's business value impacted by government and regulatory action, or inaction can reach as high as 30 percent of earnings for most companies. With as much as one-third of earnings at stake, it is imperative that companies, industries and organizations engage in government relations. If you need effective representation from a bipartisan, entrepreneurial government relations firm contact Cansler Consulting. We are certified by the National Institute of Lobbying and Ethics and have decades of experience assisting clients in issue areas including Agriculture, Budget & Appropriations, Food Safety, Transportation & Infrastructure, International Trade and Energy. Through our relationships established in Washington, D.C. and throughout the U.S. for over two decades we can help you the legislative and regulatory processes on Capitol Hill and inside federal agencies. You can contact us at

Tim Cansler
  1. Huffington Post []
  2. Seattle Times []
  3. Huffington Post []
Share
Share