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By Linda S. Birnbaum
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for protecting the public’s health and ensuring the safety of our nation’s food supply.
Sadly, as Politico reported this month, the agency “has repeatedly failed to take timely action on a wide range of safety and health issues the agency has been aware of for several years, including dangerous pathogens found in water used to grow produce and heavy metal contamination in baby foods.”
Here, I focus on another critical agency mandate: To protect the public from harmful chemicals in food and cosmetics. Here too the agency is failing to protect consumers.
Chemicals in food and cosmetics — whether present as additives or contaminants — usually do not cause immediate or obvious health effects, but they pose a significant longer-term risk to public health.
Consumers want to know that the food and products they use every day are safe and that neither individual chemicals nor their cumulative impacts will harm their health. Congress directed the FDA to do this more than 60 years ago.