Government regulators are taking a hard line against corporate violators, according to the Washington Post.
Amidst a wave of recalls of everything from lead-tainted lipstick to hazardous dog food, consumers are fed up with the long leash that’s been given to corporations in the past, and are demanding tougher governmental oversight.
Obama’s appointees are taking notice and stepping up enforcement.
“In the Bush administration, the problem was that the political folks were hostile to the mission," said Michael A. Livermore, the executive director of the Institute for the Study of Regulation at New York University Law School.
He added, "We've already seen the new direction of this White House play out in other regulatory aspects — the Environmental Protection Agency and financial regulation. With the consumer protection agencies, you're going to see a lot more stuff happening because they fit Obama's broad vision for government.”
Among the regulators' most recent collars include the FDA's crack down on dietary supplements that act more like steroids and telling cereal giant General Mills that claiming Cheerios cereal can lower cholesterol by 4 percent is effectively a drug claim and therefore subject to clinical studies and agency approval prior to being put in the market.
According to the Post, “The new regulators display a passion for rules and a belief that government must protect the public from dangers lurking at home and on the job — one more way the new White House is reworking the relationship between government and business.”
These bold moves are, not surprisingly, making consumer advocates cheer, but others are not so happy with the regulators’ vamped up patrols.
“It's ‘shoot first and ask who we shot later,’” Gary L. Yingling, a lawyer and pharmacist, told the Post. "My concern is whether they've dotted their i's, crossed the t's, understand the statutory regulations and understand what the agency did yesterday. That's a real concern.”
And it’s not just the food and drug regulators that are getting tough.
Inez Moore Tenenbaum, the new chairman at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, told the Post that her top priority is to implement a new law that includes the strongest consumer protections in a generation.
Federal regulators also have workplace violators in their sight. Acting head Jordan Barab of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is looking into rules that would protect workers from repetitive-strain injuries — which affect everyone from computer geeks to poultry processors and cause about 60 percent of injuries, according to OSHA.
Of course, in a weakened economy businesses are quick to argue that increased regulations will further cripple U.S. businesses, but many regulators aren’t hearing it.
“The law says that employers are responsible for workplace safety and health,” said Barab last June. “And there's a new sheriff in town to enforce the law.”