This week marks the 100th Anniversary of the implementation of the Pure Food and Drug Act, a landmark piece of legislation calling for federal inspection of food products and paving the way for the creation of the Food and Drug Administration. However, as a January 2 New York Times editorial points out, advances in food safety are far from adequate considering how much time has elapsed.
Though nearly a century had passed, 2006 may have been the nadir of the federal food safety era. A spinach contamination outbreak in the fall killed three, and mysterious Taco Bell food poisonings only aggravated national concern. The Times editorial points out that anti-government conservatism has been a contributing factor in the declining safety:
Since the Reagan era, conservatives have tried to turn "government regulation" into an epithet…Food safety has been particularly hard-hit by this anti-regulatory climate.
The Times is calling for the new Congress to "hold hearings to get to the bottom of those recent food disasters and to explore what the next ones are likely to be." Here's to hoping the 110th puts food safety on its legislative plate.