Dec 21, 2010

Food Safety Bill Underhandly Passed by Senate:

Keeping up with the latest news on the food safety legislation is a challenge with all the swift manuvering going on. The Alliance for Natural Health has been very quick to send me updates, with the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund not far behind. Both of these organizations as well as the Weston A. Price Foundation do NOT support the food safety bill because of the amount of discretionary power it gives to the FDA.

The latest news is that the Senate stuck the food safety bill onto an unrelated bill, H.R. 2751, the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act. Where it passed unanimously. Now it goes to the house. It may be voted on by the House as early as today. You can click this link from the Alliance for Natural Health to send the message below to Nancy Pelosi and your representative.

You can also get information and contact directions from the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense fund here.


I was shocked to learn that late Sunday night, the Senate tacked the language of its Food Safety bill (S.510) onto one of your own bills, H.R. 2751, as Senate amendment SA 4890, then passed it with a unanimous consent agreement. This bill will not make our food one bit safer, but will forever transform the food and farming industries for the worse. And it will have a devastating effect on small food producers, like organic farms or mom-and-pop roadside stands.Now the bill is in your hands. I am begging you--please strip H.R. 2751 of this terrible Food Safety amendment!

I understand there is a possibility that it may be brought up "under suspension," but please don't! Please let the Food Safety issue be raised only under regular order--our citizens need to make their voices heard, and this cannot be done with expedited procedures, or with underhanded maneuvers like the one the Senate employed to get this bill pushed through without anyone noticing!

Please make sure the Food Safety bill language is not attached to any other bill, either. This is an issue that affects me and my family intimately. It affects our health, our very lives. Please don't allow it to be pushed through in such a devious way! The Senate's actions, passing such important legislation by sneaking it into a recycling bill, at 10 p.m. on a Sunday night when they thought no one was watching, were unconscionable.

I am ashamed that my senators acted so dishonorably. Please don't allow the House of Representatives to take a similarly untrustworthy action.

While I am pleased that the exemption for supplements from Codex language and the Tester amendment that protects small farms from some of the bill's provisions remain intact, this bill would make a terrible change in the language of the federal FD&C Act. Currently, if an FDA inspector "has credible evidence or information" that something in a food facility "presents a threat of serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals," the inspector may order that item be "detained"--that is, prohibit its sale. But under this bill, the inspector can detain any product if he or she "has reason to believe that such article is adulterated or misbranded."

The FDA says a food or supplement may be deemed "adulterated" if there have been any record-keeping violations. They have demonstrated that "misbranded" can mean that the producer makes a completely true statement about the product but without FDA permission.
So when the FDA is inspecting a facility, if they merely believe an item is misbranded or adulterated--no concrete evidence is required--they can confiscate all of that product. If there is a suspected record-keeping error for a supplement, the entire stock can be taken by the FDA.

This is outrageous.I'm also concerned that all facilities will be inspected much more frequently--particularly the low-risk facilities. The FDA will need to hire an additional 5,000 employees to do all the inspections--and the FDA will be so bogged down inspecting all the smaller operations that they won't have time to focus on the big guys--where the actual food safety problems arise.
Under this bill, if the FDA finds there to be a reasonable probability that a product may cause serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals, the FDA may suspend that facility's registration, effectively shutting it down. This seems reasonable, but there is only one informal opportunity for companies to reinstate registration, with no opportunity whatsoever to appeal--they are at the mercy of an FDA inspector's whim.

The FDA currently has all the regulatory authority it needs to keep our nation's food safe. More to the point, the FDA needs to focus on large producers--particularly the CAFOs--not waste its time creating harsh new regulations for small farmers and businesses.

As my representative and my leaders in Congress, you are my voice--please make sure the Food Safety Act does not become law just because it was attached to some unrelated last-minute legislation!

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