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New Data Counters Half-Baked Claims of Food Safety Crisis

Posted By Diane Katz On December 17, 2010 @ 11:00 am In Economics | Comments Disabled

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The incidence rate of food-borne illness in the United States is dramatically lower than previously estimated, according to findings [2] reported Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The new data thoroughly refute the misleading claims of alarmists advocating for vastly expanding federal regulation of the food supply.

According to the new research published in the current edition of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, some 16 percent of Americans experience some form of food-borne illness annually—compared to the previous estimate of 25 percent. Best of all, the new analysis has lowered the number of deaths related to food-borne illness from 5,000 a year to 3,000 annually—a difference of 40 percent.

The previous figures cited by the CDC originated from estimates compiled in 1999. The new figures, employing data from 2000 to 2008 and better statistical methods, represent “the most accurate picture yet” of food-borne illness, agency officials said.

All of which is very good news for us all. It also is particularly useful to counter the misinformation enveloping pending legislation that would grant the Food and Drug Administration control over virtually all aspects of food production, from farm to table.

The most recent incarnation of the food regulation measure has cleared the House. Its fate in the Senate is shaky, however. It had been tucked within the 1,924-page, $1.27 trillion omnibus spending bill, but that’s been abandoned by Senate leadership. Whether it is taken up in another form before Congress recesses remains to be seen.

Proponents contend that the costly regulatory scheme is based on “science.” But as the new CDC figures indicate, there’s nothing scientific about the presumption that regulatory action is needed to stem a supposed food safety crisis. In reality, beefing up the FDA’s powers would increase the size of government, increase paperwork and red tape, and increase food costs. But it wouldn’t increase food safety.

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URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2010/12/17/new-data-counters-half-baked-claims-of-food-safety-crisis/

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[1] Image: http://www.foundry.org/wp-content/uploads/200px-Food_and_Drug_Administration_logo.svg_.png

[2] findings: http://cdc.gov/media/pressrel/2010/r101215.html

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