Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw’s®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 15 No.
1 • January-February 2012
The Food Industry Braces for FSMA
The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 (FSMA) is another factor promising unforeseeable but undoubtedly very considerable increases in regulatory expenses for the food industry that will, typically for government regulations, be likely to impose far higher costs than the improved food safety benefits, if any, that they deliver. What this will mean, among other things, is a significant decrease in the number of small and medium sized food companies (hence, reduced competitive market forces and reduced innovation that frequently comes from smaller, more entrepreneurial companies) and another increase for consumers in the cost of food products to add to the already increasing food prices, with little improvement in food safety.
Not surprisingly, the Act passed both houses of Congress because it was supported by major food companies and lobbying organizations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (though produce organizations opposed it). This follows the usual pattern in which, sensing huge new expenses to come from oncoming regulatory programs, large companies and other large stakeholders rush to be in on the ground floor hoping to have a hand in controlling the resulting regulations to hopefully benefit themselves or at least shift the harm to somebody else. This is the same pattern as we saw in the passage of the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices for dietary supplements which, supported by the larger companies and lobbying groups in the industry, helped the FDA get sweeping new authority that has resulted in very complex (even, in places, incomprehensible) and expensive new regulations that are unlikely to improve dietary supplement quality and safety but are sure to very significantly increase the costs of producing them and, hence, increasing what consumers have to pay for them. (We have written a critique of the FDA’s GMPs for dietary supplements in an earlier newsletter.)
As reported in a food industry publication, a food industry analyst, David Acheson, thinks “[w]e’ve got a tsunami building for the early part of 2012.” This is, the article reports, because FDA officials are “intent on having regulations in place before 2013, IN CASE AN ANTI-REGULATION ADMINISTRATION OCCUPIES THE WHITE HOUSE AFTER THE NEXT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.” (emphasis added) “Before that [the unveiling of the regulations] happens, food companies may rue their early support of FSMA [these guys never learn!], but at least the present uncertainty will be replaced by known expectations for food safety systems.” (Yeah, right, then you will know the real disaster you are facing rather than just imagining what the disaster might be. Thanks a lot, government asslickers!)
- Higgins. Industry Braces for FSMA. Food Engineering 93-102 (January 2012).