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A report last week by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the biggest challenge facing federal agencies looking to do a better job of assuring food and drug safety – and thereby preventing at least some disease outbreaks - is in creating a streamlined and effective communications system that links the various pieces of the chain.

According to a Reuters story, “The 148-page report said the current system is impaired because thousands of local health departments, university researchers, corporations and other institutions often collect data for their own use, with no mandate to share information … The report noted that individual government agencies have a sense of ownership that can deter data sharing while the food industry has competitive, liability and other reasons.”

The story also notes that “The United States has nearly 3,000 local health departments and retail inspection agencies, millions of agricultural producers and a wide range of government and university researchers, the study said. The federal government alone has 15 agencies that handle food safety including the U.S. Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration.”

Among the recommendations made by the CDC in its study was that either Congress or the president should mandate information sharing and the creation of an infrastructure that would encourage and facilitate such communication.

KC's View:
Good luck.

There are so many competing egos and agendas at work here that it is hard to imagine anything actually getting fixed. It seems to me that while such a step is incredibly unlikely, the only way to really fix the system is to figure out how you would create a new food and drug safety apparatus from scratch…and then do so, migrating responsibilities from the old bureaucracy to a new one that hopefully would be set up in such a way that it is both effective and efficient.

Like I said. Good luck.