Quality watchdogs needed
BY 2012-04-26 19:35:23
Lawless profit-seekers and inert watchdogs - that's the fundamental formula for potentially life-threatening products.
As more worrisome details emerge about the toxic gelatin capsules, it is impossible not to be outraged by the failure of those charged with protecting us.
The food and drug administrators have finally rolled up their sleeves and are busy killing a chicken to scare the monkey as is their wont.
We understand the authorities' eagerness to contain and manage the crisis. And their crisis management achievements following other scandals do offer a degree of comfort. But such repair work is nothing to brag about.
The stock response they are accustomed to implementing - the blanket screening of problematic goods, the recall of suspicious products, the suspension of manufacturers and an investigation of those involved - does not prevent the scandals from happening in the first place.
Those responsible for producing the dangerous goods must be punished. But that is only part of the story.
The inability of our tame and toothless watchdogs to perform their duties effectively has played a significant role in almost all the quality scandals and they should not escape scrutiny.
That the quality watchdogs have once again allowed a dangerous product to reach the consumer is intolerable considering the acute threats to public health that have arisen in recent years, which have given them ample opportunity to plug any loopholes and address any problems with their performance.
As in previous scandals, the media are informing the public of useful ways to protect themselves, this time highlighting how to distinguish problematic capsules from normal ones.
But if we have to look out for ourselves, why should we use taxpayers' money to support the mammoth, expensive, and ineffective watchdogs?