Last week The Atlantic staged our first, and we hope not our last, Food Summit. We got a pretty stellar lineup of speakers, thanks to their kindness and to the untiring efforts of our Ben Bradley, who put in untold hours arranging the schedule and (with Suzanne Merkelson) prepping me, and my colleagues Marc Ambinder and James Gibney, who each moderated one of the three really substantive panels of the day.
We'll post video clips a bit later in the week. For now, have a look at Sara Rubin's report on Marc's food safety panel and Nicole Allan's introduction to some of the issues on my panel on ways to fight obesity.
Marc drew out themes brought out by FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, who led the day with a trenchant and terrific keynote. The administration wants to see much more funding and attention go to food safety—and so does the public. Hamburg herself appointed the Food Channel's own Mike Taylor as Deputy Commissioner for Foods, a new position, with a mandate to coordinate efforts on food safety and nutrition.
But the comprehensive food safety legislation the House passed is still waiting in the Senate. And meanwhile the FDA, incredibly, has no mandatory recall authority, despite polls that Erik Olson, director of food and consumer product safety at the Pew Charitable Trust, cited in Marc's panel showing that the public assumes it does. Nor does it have anything like the money it needs to conduct regular inspections and monitor the safety of the fully 70 percent of seafood and 30 percent of produce sold in the U.S. originating in other countries.