The Shutdown Is Not Making Our Food Less Safe — The FDA Is

Alice Salles Comments

With the government shutdown underway, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claims it’s unable to do most food safety inspections. The news sent shockwaves through the nation, with people calling out “literally Hitler” President Donald Trump for killing us all with poisoned food.

But as the FDA now announces it’s resuming food safety inspections this week, reports are focusing on how regulators will be working without pay to save us all from foodborne illness catastrophe.

food safety FDA

FDA Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, told reporters the agency is not doing all it can, and that things they are failing to do are “important.” According to NBC, that means inspectors stopped checking domestic food production facilities, so they were no longer auditing breakfast cereal in search for Salmonella, ice cream for listeria, or even lettuce for E. coli contamination.

But as noted even by main outlets, companies continue to inspect their own products before dispatching them to distribution centers. After all, their pay does not depend on taxes but on the actual sale of their products. And if their food is bad or harmful to the consumer, it will also impact their bottom line.

But anyone reporting on the FDA’s struggles under the current shutdown will consistently fail to emphasize that point. And who suffers as a result? The consumer.

Only The Market Can Truly Produce Safe Food

As demonstrated by the sustainable and organic food movement, the free market can provide safe and affordable food to the consumer without a seal of approval from a federal bureaucrat.

Because obtaining a USDA Certified Organic sticker can oftentimes be costly to small farmers, many of the leaders of the organic food revolution have consistently encouraged fellow farmers to ignore requirements altogether, urging consumers to simply go directly to the provider.

But to those who cannot go straight to the source, there are at least two voluntary and privately-run organizations they can go to to check if their food is, indeed, organic. The Certified Naturally Grown program, a “non-profit organization offering certification tailored for small-scale, direct-market farmers and beekeepers using natural methods,” and Whole Foods, which developed its own certification system for livestock and poultry.

While these are just a few examples of how the market organizes itself to give the consumer peace of mind, the very existence of a regulatory body such as the FDA nearly undoes the market’s job, as many consumers will only rely on bureaucrats, going as far as claiming they are incapable of feeding themselves confidently in the current environment.

If the FDA and other related agencies did not exist, more private organizations would step up and the question of food safety would no longer be in the hands of clueless bureaucrats, but in the hands of those who actually stand to lose if their products cause consumers harm.

After all, if food and drug providers would no longer have a government agency with the power to protect them calling the shots, they would only have one powerful group to respond to: consumers.


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