The recent egg recall has many Americans finally understanding the many food safety issues we face. A few days ago, a new survey showed that FDA and USDA employees report that special interests and political interference affect food safety decisions, even under the Obama administration. However, a less recent discovery about the two agencies also contributes to the problem: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) work with food safety laws that are strange and confusing. The L.A. Times gives some examples:

In the U.S., cheese pizza is regulated by one federal agency, but a pepperoni pizza is overseen by another. An open-faced turkey sandwich, likewise, falls under the purview of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but one with two slices of bread is under the jurisdiction of the FDA. Liquid beef broth and dehydrated chicken broth? USDA. Liquid chicken broth and dehydrated beef broth? FDA.
That’s why many critics are calling for reform of food safety laws. Under discussion is the Food Safety Modernization Act, a Senate bill that would “transform the FDA from an agency that reacts to food-borne illness outbreaks to one that heads them off,” with “the power to order food recalls on its own instead of relying on cooperation from industry,” according to the L.A. Times.

The Food Safety Modernization Act, if passed, wouldn’t be a quick fix. The USDA and the FDA would still have to deal with their weird division of labor, but many environmental and health groups support the bill, forming a coalition called Make Our Food Safe to push for the bill’s passage.

Get more details about the Food Safety Modernization Act by reading a quick list of what the bill does and does not do, courtesy of Ken Cook, president of Environmental Working Group. Then, when you’re ready to take action, sustainable foodie nonprofit Slow Food USA wants you to sign a petition to “make our food edible,” and Make Our Food Safe wants you to write your senators, asking them to vote for the Food Safety Modernization Act.

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