A New Role for the FDA in Food Safety

32 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2021

See all articles by Richard A. Williams

Richard A. Williams

George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Date Written: November 1, 2010


Beginning in the 1870s and '80s, there were multiple bills in Congress to get the federal government heavily involved in food safety to effect. Pathogenic contamination was rampant, from insanitary plants and poor processing, and there were many compounds added to food that had no business in anyone‘s diet. There was generally no judicial remedy as there was almost no way to trace harm to offending products. The government‘s role in protecting consumers from risk has increased steadily right through today and, initially, the creation of the FDA saw some early successes in this area.

This paper begins with the early history of successes that the FDA enjoyed with early regulations. Next, there is a discussion of how early successes evolved into diminishing regulatory effectiveness. Following that there is a discussion of the complex world that the FDA now tries to regulate and inspect and what the modern approach has been to try and deal with this universe. Finally, there is a discussion of new directions that are likely to be more effective at reducing food-borne disease.

Keywords: food safety, benefit-cost analysis, Food Safety Modernization Act, FDA, risk assessment, HACCP, regulations

JEL Classification: I1, D8, D6

Suggested Citation

Williams, Richard A, A New Role for the FDA in Food Safety (November 1, 2010). Mercatus Working Paper Series, No. 10-69, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3831560 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3831560

Richard A Williams (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

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