What You Don’t Know Can Mess You Up

The Gourmet holiday issue, overwhelmingly dominated by cookie recipes and gift guides, also contains an interestingly off-message piece titled “Your Ignorance, Their Bliss.”

The story has a relatively simple point: The Food and Drug Administration, which has been charged in recent years with protecting the national food supply against acts of terrorism, may soon also need to take over the duties of food labeling and standards from individual states.

The National Uniformity for Food Act—sponsored by, surprise, surprise, the food industry—would replace stronger state food labeling and safety standards with weaker, federally mandated rules. Moreover, the rules would need to be researched and imposed by an agency whose resources have been increasingly cut back, even as its duties have expanded.

A chart run with the piece tells the story of the incredible shrinking FDA in a hurry:

BUDGET

2003: $47.6 million

2006: $30 million

2007: $25 million

FULL-TIME EMPLOYEES

2003: 950

2006: 881

2007: 817

Government thriftiness is swell, but it’s hard not to wish that costs had been cut another way—like, say, scrapping a couple spare nuclear weapons. We got lots!