The FDA, reports the New York Times, is getting tougher about food safety, and about time too. Within the last few days, the FDA has issued guidance to industry about how to deal with pistachios, warned food companies that they must follow Good Manufacturing Practices, explained to companies how recalls are supposed to be done, warned consumers not to eat pistachios unless their source is known, and continued to update the list of recalled products.
None of this gets at the real problems: the lack of a unified food safety system with some teeth in it, resources to carry out food safety oversight and inspections, and authority to order recalls of potentially unsafe food (recalls, as I keep reminding you, are voluntary).
The FDA's handling of the pistachio situation differs sharply from the agency's usual way of handling such things. Usually, the FDA waits for people to get sick before taking action. The odd thing here is that nobody seems to have gotten sick from eating contaminated pistachios. So what the FDA is doing is working - so far.
And all this is happening under the leadership of an Acting Commissioner while the newly appointed Commissioner, Dr. Margaret Hamburg, awaits congressional approval.