Nothing about food safety takes place in a political vacuum. For decades, the food industry has lobbied to ensure the status quo. And when there is a rare policy victory for food safety advocates, such as the signing into law of the Food Safety Modernization Act in January 2010, the game changes from stalling off policy to limiting government funding that can adequately carry out the legislative intent.
Powerful trade groups, including the American Meat Institute, lobby against policy improvements, such as expanding common sense required testing for deadly bacteria in ground beef. Another important political factor is international trade. Foreign nations are often uncooperative when the U.S. government demands higher scrutiny of imports. In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is constantly under-funded, limiting inspection and enforcement actions despite having jurisdiction over the majority most of the food supply. Once again, the hand of powerful food industry lobbies influence the process, funding their preferred position that less regulation and an absence of government oversight is better for their bottom-lines.