Oversee produce safety on a limited basis. While the FDA can't tell farmers how to farm, it should be able to inspect fields where foods that are known to be especially susceptible to contamination are grown, such as spinach and other green, leafy vegetables. "Currently we have no federal standards for produce safety," says Olson. "None." That means it's not against the law to spread bacteria-rich manure onto fields growing leafy greens that are about to be picked and sold, he adds. And water used to irrigate these plants can be tainted by run-off from other farms where, say, there's cow or pig manure. The new law would charge the FDA with establishing rules to prevent produce from becoming contaminated.
Regulate imported foods in a lax manner. While the U.S. Department of Agriculture can block the entry of tainted beef, chicken, or pork from other countries, the FDA has little muscle when it comes to stopping foreign imports of suspicious cheese, fruit, or spices. In fact, several outbreaks have occurred because the FDA was powerless to stop these products from entering the U.S., like a recent imported spice that contaminated a batch of Veggie Booty, a puffed rice snack product, says Olson. The new law would allow the agency to require that imported foods meet the same safety standards as those produced in the U.S.