“The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act” (S. 510) purports to address concerns over the state of food safety in the U.S. but, as currently written, would actually make our food less safe. S. 510 would strengthen the forces that have led to unsafe, nutritionally compromised food by leaving loopholes for large, concentrated food manufacturers and undercutting small, local producers of safe, healthy foods.
The Senate could vote on S. 510 at any time. IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO contact your Senators NOW to urge them to amend or oppose the bill! Contact information and talking points are below.
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. Instead, S. 510 is a “one-size-fits-all” approach that would unnecessarily burden both farmers and small-scale food processors, ultimately depriving consumers of the choice to buy from producers they know and trust.
1) 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.
Tell the staffer that you want the Senator to AMEND OR OPPOSE S. 510. Engage the 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 Food Safety Modernization Act, would impose 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 urge the Senator to amend or oppose the bill. Please call me back at ____________.”
You can also send an email through the Western Organization of Resource Council’s automated system http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5706/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=1775
2) If you are in the DC area, consider coming to the grassroots lobby day hosted by NICFA on March 10. Details can be found at http://www.nicfa.com/
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 counterproductive and unnecessary. FDA has not used its existing authority well. Instead of focusing its resources on the problems posed by imported foods and large processing facilities, FDA has chosen to target small processors. While approving unlabeled GMOs to enter our food supply, it has 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 unless Congress requires the agency to focus on Agribusiness and not small, local producers.
3. Relying on HACCP would 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) would 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 punishing 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 for 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 would 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. 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 would be practically impossible to hold foreign food facilities to the same standards and inspections. The bill would create a considerable competitive disadvantage for ALL U.S. agriculture and food production (see analysis at http://ftcldf.org/news/news-20Oct2009-2.html).
6. Food safety and security both come from a diversified, vibrant local food system. Local foods give consumers the choice to buy from producers they know, creating a transparent, accountable food system without federal government oversight. State and local laws, which are often size-specific rather than one-size-fits-all, are more than enough for local food producers.