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CNN reports on the calls for a national food "czar" who would have responsibility for a department overseeing the more than a dozen agencies ruling the food safety sector. "Like the Office of Homeland Security created after the 2001 attacks," CNN writes, "the new department would seek to unite the many disparate interests that hold sway over a vital part of the economy - the nation's $1 trillion food industry."

Dr. Philip Tierno, director of microbiology at New York University Medical Center and a member of Rudy Giuliani's post-9/11 task force on bioterrorism, tells CNN, "To get back the public's confidence, I think the government should have a real food czar, one that is only reportable to the president of the United States - a Cabinet-level position. I think enough consecutive events have occurred to make the public really afraid at this time."

William Hallman, director of the Food Policy Institute at Rutgers University, disagrees, saying that rather than centralized oversight at the consumption end, what is really needed is to make sure that food is safe at the source. "Ultimately regulation can only get you so far," he tells CNN. "You can't check everything. It really comes down to knowing where your food comes from and trusting that source."
KC's View:
We're not sure that greater oversight at both the source and at the consumption end are mutually exclusive.

And we're not sure that the Department of Homeland Security would be the best model on which to create a new government agency.

The real challenge is to create greater effectiveness without creating more bureaucracy. Which probably is virtually impossible considering the ways of Washington.

We are pretty sure of one thing. The way things are going, the incidents in which unsafe foods make their way onto supermarket shelves and onto people's dinner tables are only going to increase. That certainly seems to be the pattern, and there is no reason to believe there is going to be a miraculous reversal.

The status quo just doesn’t cut it anymore.