SENATE FOOD SAFETY BILL
Start the New Year off right, by talking with your Senators about safe and healthy food!
Big Ag and Big Food have distributed melamine-contaminated milk from China and salmonella-contaminated peppers from Mexico. Yet Congress hasn’t gotten the message that they need to solve the real problems – the centralized food distribution system and imported foods – and not regulate our local food sources out of business.
In November, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) approved S. 510, the “FDA Modernization Act of 2009.” Although the Committee members made several comments about addressing the concerns of small and sustainable farmers, S. 510 still imposes many burdensome and inappropriate requirements on local foods, without solving many of the real problems in the mainstream, centralized food system.
The full Senate is expected to vote on it early this year, possibly even this month (January 2010). Please take action now!
Call both of your Senators. You can find their contact information at www.Senate.gov, or call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or toll-free at 877-210-5351
Ask to speak with the staffer who handles food safety issues. Engage that staffer in a discussion about the importance of local, nutrient-dense foods to you and your family, and why your local food sources should not be subject to FDA regulation. If you get their voice mail instead of the staff, leave the following message:
“Hi, my name is _____ and I live in ______. I’m very concerned that S.510, the FDA Modernization Act, imposes unfair and burdensome regulations on local food sources, which are very important to me. The Committee version of the bill does not address my concerns, and I’d like to talk with you about where the Senator stands on this issue. Please call me back at ____________.”
And stay tuned for the next alert! We will be asking you to call again when the Senate is about to vote on S 510. BOTH of these calls are important – the call now educates the Senators on the issues, and the call before the vote lets them know how their constituents want them to vote at the critical moment.
1. The major foodborne illness outbreaks and recalls have all been caused by the large, industrial food system. Small, local food producers have not contributed to the highly publicized outbreaks. Yet S. 510 subjects the small, local food system to the same, broad federal regulatory oversight that would apply to the industrial food system.
2. FDA regulation of local food processors is unnecessary and overly burdensome. FDA has not used its existing authority well. Instead of focusing its resources on the problems posed by imported foods and large processing facilities, it has chosen to target small processors. While approving unlabeled GMOs to enter our food supply, it has outlawed raw milk and interfered with the free choice of informed adults who want access to this healthy food. Simply giving FDA increased authority and power will not improve the food supply because the agency needs to have clear limits set by Congress to prevent it from targeting small producers and raw dairy.
3. Relying on HACCP will harm small processors. Increased regulations and record-keeping obligations could destroy small businesses that bring food to local communities. In particular, the reliance on HACCP (the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point system) will harm small food producers. Although the theory of preventative controls is a good one for large, complex facilities, the federal agencies’ implementation of HACCP, with its requirements to develop and maintain extensive records, has already proven to be an overwhelming burden for a significant number of small, regional meat processors across the country. In the meat industry, HACCP has substituted paperwork review for independent inspections of large meatpacking plants, while sanctioning small processors for paperwork violations that posed no health threat. Applying a HACCP system to small, local foods processors could drive them out of business, reducing consumers’ options to buy fresh, local foods.
4. FDA does not belong on the farm. S. 510 calls for FDA regulation of how farms grow and harvest produce. Given the agency’s track record, it is likely that the regulations will discriminate against small, organic, and diversified farms. The House version of the bill directs FDA to consider the impact of its rulemaking on small-scale and diversified farms, but there are no enforceable limits or protections for small diversified and organic farms from inappropriate and burdensome federal rules.
5. The bill’s requirements apply to all food, not just food in interstate commerce. On its face, the bill applies to any farm or food producer, regardless of location, size, or scope of distribution.
6. S. 510 favors foreign farms and producers over domestic. The bill creates incentives for retailers to import more food from other countries, because it burdens family farms and small business and because it will be practically impossible to hold foreign food facilities to the same standards and inspections. The bill will create a considerable competitive disadvantage for ALL U.S. agriculture and food production (see analysis at http://ftcldf.org/news/news-20Oct2009-2.html).