NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Regulations Implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act

August 24, 2015

The Food Safety Modernization Act requires the Food and Drug Administration to create a new set of rules for the food production it oversees. However, a study by the Mercatus Center shows that these regulations are not only burdensome but fail to prove that their benefits will outweigh their costs.

In some cases the rules are unnecessary because they don't address a significant food safety issue, in others they are ineffective because there is little evidence that these new rules will mitigate existing problems.

The study identified the following problems in the FDA's new regulations:

  • Many of these rules do not address a large recurring problem requiring regulation. Moreover, some rules are redundant and add to the regulatory burden.
  • Similar, existing rules have failed to reduce food safety risk. For some products, such as raw oysters, these rules will never be effective.
  • While the FDA claims its regulations will reduce food recalls involving food-borne illnesses, it offers no evidence to support this claim.
  • The FDA's rules consistently stretch the reach of the regulations to the extreme limit when more specific rules would be more justifiable.

It is necessary for Congress to revisit the Food Safety Modernization Act so it can eliminate prescriptive requirements, get rid of statutory deadlines, and put a hold on finalizing any FDA rules. But even if Congress doesn't take any action, the FDA should implement these rules in a more responsible way with minimal economic impact.

Source: Richard Williams, "Regulations Implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act," Mercatus Center, August 18, 2015.

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