Although it has been delayed many times, the Food Safety Modernization Act (S.510) continues to be a threat. This bill greatly expands FDAs authority over both processed foods and fresh fruits and vegetables, and would give FDA authority to impose extensive, burdensome requirements on even the smallest processing facilities and farms who sell to local consumers.
While the latest version of the bill included some provisions for flexibility and scale-sensitivity, the provisions do not go far enough to protect the small-scale local food businesses that could be destroyed by the new federal regulations.
S.510 could be voted on in the next couple of weeks without much notice. So the time to call your Senators is NOW!
You can find your Senators contact information at www.Senate.gov or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or toll-free at 877-210-5351. When you call your Senators offices, ask to speak to the staffer who handles food safety issues, and tell them these two things:
1) Support the Tester-Hagan amendment to exempt small-scale, direct marketing farms and facilities from some of the most burdensome portions of the bill. This common-sense amendment is critical to protecting local food sources.
2) Oppose criminal penalties for violations that do not endanger human health or safety: Although it is unclear, there may also be an amendment introduced to combine S.3767 (introduced by Senator Leahy) with S.510, which would create criminal penalties for knowingly introducing adulterated or misbranded food into interstate commerce. Adulterated or misbranded food could mean simply that the farmer or producer did not have all his paperwork in order or made a technical violation of some kind that does not endanger human health or safety.
Special Action for OKLAHOMA residents
Senator Coburn is blocking the passage of S.510 by unanimous consent, and has raised a lot of very good objections to the bill. Please call and THANK HIM for taking this stand. Call his DC office at 202-224-5754. You can read Senator Coburns statement at:
Dear Senator ________:
As you consider sweeping new federal food safety legislation (S. 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act), please vote in support of common sense amendments offered by Senators Tester and Hagan to exempt small-scale direct marketing processing facilities from federal hazard analysis and control regulations and to exempt small-scale direct marketing farms from the produce safety standards. Local and state health and sanitation laws are enough for producers selling into local markets. These small-scale producers do not need and many may not survive new federal regulations.
In August, half a billion eggs were recalled to try to prevent the spread of salmonella that had originated on two related farms in Iowa. Those two farms had sold eggs under at least 25 different labels in 12 different states! The recall is symptomatic of the industrialized food system characterized by mega-farms and long, complex supply chains and distribution systems. This food system needs reform.
But without Senators Tester’s and Hagans common sense amendment to S. 510, the bill actually hurts food safety by imposing FDA regulation on the local food businesses who provide consumers with an alternative to the industrialized food system. More and more people are seeking out local producers to buy fresh, wholesome foods from people they trust, and they dont need or want FDA to interfere.
I urge you to vote FOR the Tester-Hagan Amendment to S. 510!
I also urge you to vote against any attempt to create criminal penalties for adulterated or misbranded food. These terms as defined in S.510 could include minor technical violations that harm no one. Criminal violations should be limited to those who knowingly cause serious harm to human health or safety.
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