This evening, the Senate is set to resume debate on S. 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act. The bill, which authorizes $1.5 billion in new spending over the next five years, aims to overhaul the food safety regulatory regime at a steep price to taxpayers.

The legislation includes $335 million in extraneous discretionary spending, while assessing fees on the food industry to the tune of $240 million. While its proponents argue that recent food safety scares, such as the egg salmonella recall in August, demonstrate the necessity of a food safety bill, the Food Safety Modernization Act fails to actually address the underlying deficiencies of the food safety system. Instead, the legislation overlooks the disorganization and duplicities that confond current food safety oversight in favor of invasive regulations that will necessarily raise food costs for consumers. ATR's Center for Fiscal Accountability, which studies the economic impact of regulatory policy in its annual Cost of Government Day Report, sent an alert to the Senate this afternoon, urging Senators to reject S. 510. From the alert:

The FDA and USDA currently have overlapping responsibilities, resulting in inefficient and ineffective food safety oversight. This confusion was at the core of the recent egg salmonella scare, which could have easily been avoided had the egg oversight responsibilities of the FDA and USDA been clearly delineated.

Rather than address and streamline these duplicities, the Food Modernization Act shovels taxpayer dollars at the problem while misdiagnosing the issue at hand; authorizing the FDA to issue recalls instead of focusing on the inabilities of the agency to offer cohesive oversight. What’s more, the private food industry has already demonstrated it is responsive to food contaminations, issuing voluntary recalls when necessary.

Click here to read the alert in its entirety.