Agri-business News Sandwiches

Published on August 27th, 2010 | by Heather Carr

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FDA Food Safety Modernization Act – S.510





The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S.510) is sitting in the Senate right now. It’s already passed the House and with the giant egg recall, the risk of typhoid in ice pops, and a deli meat recall at Walmart involving 1.5 million ready-to-eat sandwiches, now would be a good time to get this one passed.

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act is intended to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with respect to the safety of the food supply. It’s actually a fairly short bill with only 278 pages, but it does an excellent job of addressing the weaknesses of the current system.

The FDA Should Have the Power to Prevent Outbreaks, Not Just React to Them

Currently, the FDA does not have the power to prevent an outbreak of foodborne illness. The FDA can only react to a suspicious rise in illnesses. Only after more than 1300 people fell ill from salmonella poisoning and the FDA limited the possibilities to a very few egg suppliers could the FDA inspect Wright County Egg and later Hillandale Farms. Likewise, only after a typhoid outbreak occurred in California and Nevada could the FDA move to inspect production plants.

The bill would require food companies to maintain uniform records showing they have considered possible hazards and the steps they have taken to prevent these hazards and the bill would allow the FDA to examine these records at any time.

The FDA would also be given the power to shut down any food facility that is not in compliance with science-based regulations designed to prevent foodborne illnesses. Right now, the FDA cannot shut down a facility that is spreading salmonella. Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms issued the recall voluntarily. The FDA also cannot force them to clean up their facilities. Wright County Egg is a repeat offender and there’s no reason to expect them to work to prevent future outbreaks.

Who Pays For Improving Food Safety?

Which brings us to the next part of the bill. Everything in the bill – inspections, creating science-based standards, food recalls – is paid for by the companies being inspected. If the FDA has to perform repeat inspections because a company is not cleaning up its act, the company foots the bill for the inspections.

Won’t Food Safety Regulations Shut Down Small Farms?

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act was held up in the Senate while the effects on small farms, organic farms, farmers market, and the like were being determined. The aim of the bill is to clean up factory farms. With the consolidation of the food supply, only a few companies control most of our food. One company taking a few shortcuts can sicken thousands of people. The record-keeping and inspection schedules required by the bill, while necessary in the day-to-day operations of a large corporation, would prove onerous to a small family business.

A manager’s amendment was recently added to protect small farms. An exemption has been added for small food businesses. Basically, if a business (farm, restaurant, roadside stand, etc.) did not have to register under the Bioterrorism Act of 2002 as a food facility, then the business will not be affected by this bill.

Organic Foods

The science-based minimum standards that will be established by the FDA cannot conflict with organic regulations. The FDA must consider different growing, production, and harvesting techniques and can exempt small businesses that grow or process that pose very little risk of foodborne illness.

Let your senators know what you think of this bill.

Image by IronMal, used with a Creative Commons license.

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About the Author

Heather Carr loves food, politics, and innovative ways to make the world a better place. She counts Jacques Pepin and Speed Racer among her inspirations. You can find her on Facebook or .



  • http://smartculturekitchen.blogspot.com Michael

    True.

    • Heather Carr

      Thank you.

  • http://Web Don

    A) Government anything = inefficient.

    B) The taxpayer always pays for everything.

    C) Just give the FDA the right to shut down the source of contamination. The least restrictions should always be the aim of goverment – add them as necessary.

  • http://Web Susan

    Too bad that the legislation does not require health studies on genetically modified DNA which are forced into seeds with a gene gun to engineer patented new crops. A real food safety bill would make certain all new genetically modified organisms including GE fish are safe for human and animal consumption. But, no studies are mandated in the USA, partially because of appointees of both Republican and Democratic administrations, include Michael Taylor of Monsanto, and he’s in charge of food safety at the US-FDA.

    When the fox is in the hen house, small farmers are targeted to be put out of business and the biotech-pesticide industry is protected, as is the case in the U.S. government.

    Bt GMO crops like corn and cotton make our gut (immune system) a pesticide factory as the BT replicates itself in our body’s cells, based on studies out of Europe. Genetically Modified Organisms or GMO’s (God Move Over) such as soy, sugarbeets, canola can create lesions in the gut, and various organs in the body. Yet, science has been done in the USA, hence no peer reviewed scientific studies are allowed to be published here, perhaps because Monsanto controls everything.

    Unless GMO’s are studied and regulated under the Food Safety and Modernization Act, this bill is a farce!

    • http://Web Susan

      I meant to say NO REAL SCIENCE HAS BEEN DONE IN THE USA on the HEALTH EFFECTS CAUSED TO PEOPLE, especially our children and the unborn fetus. And, without real science, there is no peer review. There is no mandatory labeling in the USA and Monsanto has fought the labeling that has been voluntarily placed on some processed foods that do not contain GMO’s. Without the right to know, without science mandating health effects, physicians cannot treat the ill effects that consumers experience from eating these crops. In fact, many physicians have not put two and two together as yet to understand why their patients have damaged immune systems, increased food allergies to foods previously recognized as safe before they were Genetically Modified to become a pesticide or to be herbicide tolerant!
      They don’t know why sterility has increased in humans, pets, and livestock. Farmers have found their pigs have increased sterility, while others have found their cows have died from eating this new “food”.

      One happy note from rats and mice. They won’t eat GM crops. I suppose rats and mice given a choice of what to eat, are smarter than humans. Rats and mice know the difference. Wildlife is learning the difference. But some people with brains in Congress and the Senate, as well as the White House, have either received significant money from Big Brother, or have lost their common sense.

  • http://Web Nina W

    This act will also radiate foods which will kill enzymes and viatmins. The government shouldn’t have this power to kill food.

    • Heather Carr

      Nina W.,

      The Food Safety Modernization Act won’t change how foods are irradiated. Organic foods will still be prohibited from being irradiated. The foods that are currently being irradiated will continue to be irradiated.

      Unless I’ve missed something in the bill. It’s a long bill, so that’s entirely possible.

  • Pingback: Food Safety Modernization Act: What Do You Think? – Eat Drink Better

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  • http://Web triad1

    I am intrigued by the backlash against this bill. Standing up to the FDA, not giving it more power, would end the GMO mandate which will exite the left, while making government smaller, (and energizing the right).

    It’s only a shame that the GOP will probably focus on social issues, when they have a perfect issue standing right in front of them. Opportunity lost.

  • Pingback: FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) Passes House Again, Heads Back to Senate – Eat Drink Better

  • http://Web Monty Maus

    You are an idiot of you think giving more power and money to the government is going to make your food safer and that this will not hurt the small family farm. These same factory farms you speak of which you think will be regulated more are the ones who contribute to political campaigns & have lobbyist in DC. FDA will not crack down on these people but will crack down on the little guy who might threaten these food monopolies. Eat & Drink Better? You are a joke if you think eating and drinking what corporate farms are providing is healthy and those corporate farms are what these regulations will support! Get a clue!

    • http://community.importantmedia.org/beckyanne/ Becky Striepe

      Monty, while we absolutely appreciate your point of view, name-calling is not the way to have a civil debate. These are totally legit concerns about S.510, but I wish you hadn’t felt the need to attack Heather and the entire site.

      If you take some time to read through our archives, you’ll find that we do support small farms, local farmers, and organic food. I understand that S.510 is a very divisive bill, but I think it’s also possible to discuss it without resorting to base tactics like name-calling. Heather is far from an idiot.

      • http://CallingitlikeIseeit Monty Maus

        Hard to be civil when websites and people like you are sentencing our children and future generations to early and painful deaths from cancer and other diseases by supporting something like this bill. You may not be idiots but you have no idea what you are supporting. This bill will eliminate anyone from being able to buy direct from a farmer. Days of going to a farmers market and buying anything that will go in your mouth, or tomatoes from a roadside stand are over. And actually if you read the bill you would know that anyone who has a garden and wants to bring some tomatoes into work to give to friends will be subject to the same regulations, licensing requirements and paper work that your for-mentioned factory farms have already been facing yet they still poison people. Legally you won’t be able to take a dish to a potluck supper or have chili cook-offs in your neighborhood. Of coarse they won’t enforce it to that point right away but eventually you will be forced to buy mass produced products that have been genetically altered and chemically sprayed. The FDA has had the power to shut down these factory farms already and they just didn’t do their job. You should be holding the FDA accountable for not doing their job instead of giving them more money and power. Read page 194 and 195 of this bill and then tell me this bill isn’t directed at small farmers. Here’s the link http://www.rules.house.gov/111/LegText/111_fullyearcr.pdf

        • http://community.importantmedia.org/beckyanne/ Becky Striepe

          I understand that this is a heated issue, I just don’t appreciate the name-calling. Thanks for reeling it in!

          Those pages do seem to target farmstands, markets, and CSA’s, but from what I understand, there was language in the manager’s amendment that protected small farmers. Was I mistaken about that?

        • Heather Carr

          Monty,

          The section you cited is adding farmers markets, CSAs, and roadside stands to the definition of “retail food establishment”, which is one of the categories of people and businesses that do not have to keep the records required by S. 510.

          http://frwebgate3.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/PDFgate.cgi?WAISdocID=fLwhCD/5/2/0&WAISaction=retrieve

          That’s a mess of a link, but it’s Subpart H of the Code of Federal Regulations that pages 194 and 195 of the food safety bill is referring to.

          • http://Youareright Monty Maus

            Could not get your link to work Heather but you are correct and this is another link to what you are talking about.

            http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?CFRPart=1&showFR=1&subpartNode=21:1.0.1.1.1.6

            I apologize for flying off the handle yesterday but stand by my words that entrusting the federal government with this much power is dangerous. Just drive through the Midwest during the month of May and you will be amazed to see how many herbicides & chemical fertilizers are being put on the food everyone eats. And that is approved by the FDA. Not only is it in your food but we are poisoning our ground water.

  • http://Web Felicity

    The purpose of this bill is to put small farms out of business so only a few large corporations can monopolize the food market. The small business exemption is not automatic and you must apply for it and be approved. You must provide a lot of paperwork and it is a lot of red tape. By default this bill applies to everyone unless you go through a lot of trouble to exempt yourself and that is not guaranteed.

    I am shocked that a health related site cannot see what is actually going on here. The FDA is controlled by the drug companies and they approve drugs that kill people for profit. Now the FDA will control all food production and distribution. THAT IS AWFUL! U.S.A. is turning into a fascist police state right before our eyes. I suggest people leave to another country while you still can.

    • Heather Carr

      Felicity,

      S. 510 is a long bill with lots of self-referencing and referencing of regulations already in place. I’ve read it and the category of people and businesses that are exempt and do not have to register seems reasonable to me.

      That said, I know that sometimes a lawmaker will try to slip something in a bill that the rest of us will regret later on. If you would cite the section or sections of the bill that state that everyone must apply for exemption, I’d like to look at it. If someone is trying to slip something by, it’s worth calling our senators over.

    • http://Web Jon

      You are correct, the purpose of this bill is to expand gov and take power away from us. They say this bill is about stopping food-borne illnesses, but if you go to the CDC they will tell you the way to stop these illnesses is cook your food, wash your hands, and keep foods at their proper temperature! So how is the FDA going to do that, will we have an FDA inspector come to every picnic?

      And the guy (Taylor) they put in charge of this was a VP at Monsanto. That is the Monsanto that is the leading maker of genetically modified plants. Same old FDA, corrupt.

      • http://GovernmentTakeoverofFood Kevin

        The government has been taking over for years and the Obama Administration is accelerating the problem. People are blind to the fact that government regulation has much more to do with controlling the food supply and, therefore, the masses than it does about food and drug safety. More people are killed by these FDA regulated companies each year than all the small farmers and natural products and holistic community. Wake up people!

  • http://Web aj

    Once the government controls the food supply they control us.

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