Continue to Oppose Food Safety Legislation

By:  Ann Shibler
08/25/2010
       

altIt happened just in time, the salmonella egg outbreak and recall, that is. Remarkably so, in fact, to help boost the chances of Senate Bill 510's passing. The Food Safety Modernization Act, whose companion bill H.R. 2749 already passed in the House, was facing quite the uphill battle. But not any more; a vote is now highly likely with approval possible if not probable.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has said there could be as many as 1,300 salmonella-related illnesses linked to the eggs. And that there could be 30 or more unreported cases for every reported case. So far there have actually been 1,953 illnesses reported from May 1 to July 31 of this year with the CDC admitting “some of these cases may not be related to this outbreak.” CNN has an interesting state-by-state listing of reported, suspected, and confirmed cases. It seems then, that labeling 1,953 food-borne illnesses in a three month period in a nation of over 300 million an “outbreak” is a bit of an over-reaction

Nonetheless, the hue and cry from the food agency regulators of the Obama Administration is deafening. Most call for an expansion of federal authority in order to prevent any more food-related illnesses, something that is quite impossible, given our imperfect planetary conditions.
 
The House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and the chairman of the panel’s investigations subcommittee Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), directed letters to the owner of one of the egg farms. According to Congressional Quarterly, a request was made for “inspection records, lists of customers who bought products within the last 12 months, communications with federal and state regulators, the companies’ procedures for monitoring eggs for food pathogens and any documentation of allegations of health, safety and animal cruelty violations,” begging the question “is it the proper role of the federal government or congressmen to demand such information?”

Senate Bill 510 has already passed committee and is on the Senate calendar. It calls for enhanced expansion of FDA authority over small farms, ranches, and other food producers, establishes burdensome administrative requirements for large and small operations, and arbitrary legal authority to recall “unsafe medications,” the definition of which is not clearly established; if in line with the global standard set by Codex Alimentarius, “unsafe medications” could extend to dietary supplements and herbal products. There is language that currently exempts from heavy regulation dietary supplement manufacturers and packagers. However, the FDA and its agents are notorious for interpreting and enforcing these regulations in their own way.

A Manager’s Amendment has been proposed that would make technical changes in the definition for “adulterated food,” and the creation of a small entity compliance policy guide that would exempt small businesses from some of the bill’s requirements — for now. Sen. Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) restriction on the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in plastic containers may also be offered as an amendment, while another is the foreign country prescription drug re-importation amendment.

The inclusion of BPA restrictive legislation and the prescription drug re-importation is not enough to offset the unconstitutional directives contained in the bill. Having the federal government assume entire control over this country’s food supply won’t solve anything and won’t prevent all food-borne illnesses, but it is a usurpation of the states’ right to set and oversee standards for food safety.

The citizens of this country who are already financially overburdened with the government's wild spending policies resulting in a ridiculous deficit and gargantuan national debt cannot afford this increase in monetary costs and bureacuracy, and loss of freedom, by the federal government expanding its reach further into the country's food supply and personal buying and eating choices.

If you believe food safety is best achieved at the local level, contact your senators and continue to express your opposition to such plans. Have them do everything in their power to defeat S. 510.

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