Last month the Food and Drug Administration exercised its authority to 
ban contaminated foods for the first time when it seized from a
 Washington State plant spices and condiments that had been exposed to
 rodents and insects.

It makes eminent sense that Kellogg would appeal to Congress to 
protect the food supply.  Public structures underwrite many industries
 so that consumers can buy with confidence.  Drugs, air travel,
automobiles, toys, and countless other products and services are 
willingly purchased without worry by consumers who believe that
 government protects them from irresponsible purveyors such as the
Peanut Corporation of America.

Likewise, providing public goods and performing functions that 
individual parties cannot be expected to provide is recognized across
 the political spectrum as a proper role for government.  That’s why we
 have transit systems and bridges paid for with public funds, as well
 as public universities, courts and police and fire departments.
Our system of safeguards, on which Kellogg and so many other producers 
depend, is currently under attack, already threatening progress in 
food safety.  The House Republican majority has voted to thwart the
 new food safety agency by withholding funds for its implementation.
The Senate has acted to maintain Department of Agriculture funding,
including funds for the new agency.  The issue is still in limbo.
Two other pieces of legislation, the so-called REINS Act, and the
 Regulatory Accountability Act, contest the value of regulation at more 
general levels.  They would greatly impair the already complex
 regulatory process by adding layers of Congressional oversight for
which the Congress is poorly staffed, and requiring analysis of the 
costs of regulation without regard for the benefits that would accrue.

The current campaign against our system of safeguards is 
single-mindedly focused on reducing regulatory requirements on 
businesses.  But as the heads of the Kellogg Company and other food
 and consumer producers surely know, we are best served by a balanced
 approach to regulation that protects the health and safety of people 
and the environment at the same time that it recognizes the needs of 
business interests.

Michael Lipsky is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos.