Thursday, August 6, 2009

New Food Bill?

Maybe it should be called the 'partial' food bill, because it doesn't cover much of our foods.

I finally had the opportunity to read the full text of HR 2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act passed by the House last week. (If you want to know how your Representative voted, click here.) There has been a lot of press about the unfairness to small family farmers in this Bill, and I agree. However, until I read the bill just now, I didn't understand it doesn't even cover foods like meat, poultry and eggs! Those are regulated by the USDA under separate, existing Acts.

I just looked at the food recalls list by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and those are all meat, poultry and egg products not covered by HR 2749 even if it becomes Law. FSIS is under the guidance of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), while the recent food recalls like peanut butter and cookie dough fall under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA is an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, not the USDA.

Confused yet? Read the entire bill, if you can plow through the legalese. I hope you will understand it better that I do.

Of course, HR 2749 isn't Law yet; it must first be passed by the Senate, and then signed by the President.
I do think we, as consumers, need better assurances on the safety of our food. However, it also seems like we have one agency doing one thing to prevent contaminations like e. coli and salmonella, and another agency doing the same thing... in a sorta kinda different way, to prevent contaminations like e. coli and salmonella... What's with that??

Oh, by the way, before 1992 the FDA was funded solely out of our taxes. Starting in 1992, a law was passed that said a large proportion of the work done by the FDA (new drug applications) is paid for directly by the pharmaceutical industry. If they want a drug reviewed, they pay directly to the FDA to have the drug reviewed. I think cash funding from the pharmaceutical industry to the FDA is a very bad idea and I wouldn't be surprised if that budget affects the FDA's ability to do food safety inspections.
(The FDA is already on record as saying they don't have enough manpower to do effective inspections.)

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