Posting in Food
When Senators met this week they were expecting hosannas, following release of a study saying the Act could save 5,000 lives a year. Instead they got a stern lecture from FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, who called the proposal weak.
That is the question Congress is considering with S. 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act. The debate comes a little over a century after the Food & Drug Administration's founding, and following a rash of recalls that shocked people almost as much as Progressive muckrakers did a century ago.
Consumer groups stand behind the proposed bill, saying it will increase inspections, create minimum standards, and impose the same requirements on imported food we have on domestic produce.
When Senators met this week they were expecting hosannas, following release of a study saying the Act could save 5,000 lives a year.
Meet the new boss, quite different from the old boss.
"S. 510 does not provide FDA with explicit authority to access food records during routine inspections," she said. Hamburg called for more information sharing between agencies, for food that fails FDA tests to be clearly labeled "adulterated," for more enforcement and (most important) for more money.
"The current inspection mandate in the bill will far outstrip our current resources," she said sharply. The federal government should be giving states multi-year grants when their inspections meet FDA guidelines.
The riskiest foods to eat today are also among the healthiest -- leafy greens, eggs and tuna. There have been 363 disease outbreaks for lettuce alone, 352 covering eggs, and 268 on tuna. Current law does not require food safety plans or specific standards for even the largest growers. High-risk facilities should be visited at least once a year, and almost none are.
All this policing will take money. It would likely come from fees paid by processors for necessary inspections.
But you can also hear the cries from critics:
- Higher taxes will make U.S. producers less competitive and raise prices for everyone.
- Tighter regulations make it ever-less likely Americans will get to enjoy treats foreign eaters take for granted, like cheese from unpasteurized milk and Italian-made salami, which foodies love.
Better regulations do not insure better diets, the industry will say. Productive companies with decent safety records should not be burdened with new taxes and regulations. Small companies will suffer. Poor people will find good food unaffordable.
Are you with the critics or with the regulators?
Oct 22, 2009
Isn't the major American health problem obesity? I'd suggest that very few die from contaminated food but far more die from just far too much food. No matter how clean and healthy your food is, if you eat far too much you'll become obese and die of a heart attack or stroke. Perhaps this is part of the idea behind this - make food more expensive so you can't afford to become obese. Or perhaps it's just some bureaucrat wanting to increase her budget and her department's control over people's lives. Makes me glad I live in Britain! Er, no, actually under this control-freak government I'm not glad I live in Britain...
The FDA is one of our oldest regulatory agencies. It dates back to 1906. And yet it's being attacked as "the government sticking its nose into everyone's business." I guess Theodore Roosevet was a socialist then. And let's get that Chester Arthur too -- the first regulatory agency was created under his watch. And the FCC, from that noted socialist Calvin Coolidge.
Just in case everyone "forgot", The produce referred to in this article comes from the DIRT. It is therefore DIRTY. I have an idea to insure that the produce is clean that does not increase and already huge bureaucracy or increase costs. WASH YOUR PRODUCE BEFORE YOU EAT IT!
Just in case everyone "forgot", the healthy foods referred to in this article come from the DIRT. It is therefore DIRTY. If you want to insure that your produce is clean, here's an idea that does not create a larger bureaucracy and increase costs. WASH YOUR PRODUCE BEFORE YOU EAT IT.
Make no mistake about it, YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT. And if you are unhealthy it is because you eat unhealthy food. Every processed food today is modified in some way to make it taste pleasing, addictive in fact so that company "A" can sell more food than company "B". It is never about positive health it is always about how tasty it is, and it is never regulated for health it is only regulated for hygiene, essentially should not contain toxic substances. Then sometimes they advertise of the health spin, like a granola bar or anything processed and loaded with sugar is healthy? ROOT CAUSE: If instead of spending trillions on healthcare, they took and spent about half of that money finely regulating the food industry all the way from the ground to the table, with applying all that is currently known about healthy food and eating. Including public education, the remaining half of the trillions would be more than adequate for healthcare. But this was never about public health it is about special interests and greed as always. Because as one doctor has already admitted YOU CAN'T EAT HEALTHY TODAY EVEN IF YOU TRY.
Are you kidding? The most dangerous thing in our lives, using the same logic as "dangerous food are the healthiest" is to go to bed! 'cos most people die in bed, wherever they are. goodbye!
All of us must eat and we all want to do so safely. Food whose safety can be trusted is therefore not a luxury but a right we should all clamour for. There is no excuse for unsafe food; every unneceassary illness is unnecessary suffering and every unnecessary death is a tragedy. No doubt there are risk takers out there who feel that an "exotic" food experience is worth the risk. That's not surprising, we have risk takers everywhere, uncluding those on our roads. But that does not mean to say that others should suffer from their risky way of life. Perhaps Ms. Hamburg is so controversial because she, unlike many politicians and company directors, actually cares about the wellbeing of others.
How about passing a law that mandates an executive panel from these companies becomes an official food taster? Just like in the "good old days" -- the royalty knew what was best for them! Then agai, this could be an interesting way to supplement population control...
Like most Governmental legislation, it costs more money and leads to a box-ticking mentality where common sense and professional judgement count for nothing and the larger companies with in-house legal departments out-manouver the rgulations while smaller operations are squeezed out.The best control is truly random inspection by a minimum of three inspectors with the power to shut down operations immediately or if they consider is a high risk crimminal danger to the public at large call in the local police to impound the materials and arrest the CEO. Dr Leslie Payne (UK) e-mail
The present administration seems more interested in controlling people rather than helping them. Are they really trying help us, or is this another means of taking control of our lives from us?
If someone feeds a guest from food grown in their backyards, will the government step in and regulate that also? Where do we draw the line?
Our ancestors did quite well without the government sticking its nose into everyone's business. While inspecting food grown outside the jurisdiction of the US is prudent, since there is little or no mechanism to punish greed that puts poisons in our food such as melamine, food produced within our jurisdiction should be free of ominous regulations and instead the penalty of law be brought down against someone who hurts their fellow Americans by deliberately producing harmful products.
Sooner or later government attempts to make food safer will make food so expensive that poor people will resort to buying pet food instead. Then, the few additional lives that are saved or suffering prevented by having safer food is more than offset by the lives wasted, lost, shortened, or suffered because the poor had to switch to animal food to eat.
You put your finger on something that has been developing in our food supply business for over 60 years. After WWII, the FDA and DofA began campaigns for cheaper protein, more healthy diets. That's where all this "factory agriculture" started, with an honest attempt to help people eat better for less. Now that most can, I agree, it's time we considered higher quality, local sources for many things. The government can aid us in that effort, but it can also restrict that effort. It's our choice, as citizens, which way to go.
Lovacorism is a very good idea. It is an interesting follow-on to the vegetarian movement of years ago. I have had some of the best meals ever at locavore restaurants. If you're ever in Decatur, GA try Leon's -- just off the square at Church and Ponce de Leon. All I can say is WOW! Thanks for reminding me of that.
You seem to be unable to conceive of a system where there is abundant safe food. We used to have such systems, a decade ago and more. But somehow it's all now inconceivable. As was said on "The Princess Bride," I don't think that word means what you think it means." Oh, and rule number two is "ever get involved in a land war in Asia." Rule number one, of course, is "never get in a match with a Sicilian where death is on the line." Fortunately I have developed an immunity to iocane powder. (whew!)
Keep food local and untampered with (chemicals, genetics) and you've got safer food supplies. That way a contamination of some kind can't spread far. When you centralize food production and processing for wide distribution, contamination can turn into an epidemic. Take the peanut fiasco for example - it's horrifying.
We've GOT to have professionally competent food safety regulation and inspection, designed for public safety not the convenience of profiteers. Dr. Hamburg is right. This is a national security issue. We don't need to sacrifice free choice. Unpasteurized cheese might be OK, if properly inspected and labeled. And maybe the label should be required to include a link to the FDA's advice on the subject.
i am all for stricter enforcement of food safety standards and inspections, however, there is no way that we will ever approach 100% safe foods for human consumption. after all we are now supplying food for over 300 million people in our own coubntry moving the stuff thousands of miles. is there any system that guarentees complete safety? of course not. there is also the requirement that the consumer treat the food they buy with care, which in many cases they do not. most , maybe all, of that recalled meat could have been eaten safely by just cooking it correctly.
I agree with ponter.The FDA just wants your money and to try to scare people from buying healthy foods so you will become unhealthy and buy drugs.
In virtually all cases, leafy greens are unsafe because they are downstream from animal wastes. What will the new law do to eliminate those toxic CAFOs? And tuna is unsafe because of heavy metals in the oceans. The FDA is going to do what about that? It's all well and good to inspect our food, but the core problems are outside of FDA's jurisdiction in the first place. Sounds more like a power grab by a bureaucrat than a plan to insure food safety. You want safer food? Do what I do. Grow your own and/or support local farmers, like at a farmer's market. Get to know your farmer!
Maybe Mr. Blankenhorn hasn't been following the news stories of years gone by where in millions of pounds a beef have been found to be contaminated. The industry fights inspection on the basis of costs, maintaining they are safe. Inspectors are too few, too harried, under pressure. So, let's let the magick of "market driven solutions" prevail. If the food industry kills enough people, consumers will vote with their feet and buy someone else's products? Mirabile dictu! Competition works! Too bad if they killed someone you cared about! Just see how well market driven solutions have worked in the financial world. Regulations? "We don't need no stinking regulations."
I just can't wait to see these government sponsored, privately run, non-profit food cooperatives. They will not be able to produce near the quantity nor quality of food that is currently being produced and rationing will be prevalent across the world much as it now is in Somalia. If you want safe, stay in your mothers womb. DWB
Regulate the bejesus out of all of them, let the chips fall where they may. Better still, set up government sponsored, privately run, non-profit food cooperatives that will "love the law" not begrudgingly follow it under threat of penalty.
The fact of the matter is our food supply, and its safety, is at greater risk than ever before. Dr Margaret Hamburg has the knowledge and credentials to oversee changes in an agency that has basically been hamstrung by food industry and drug lobbiests. Cries of "too expensive" should be best answered with a cost-benefit comparison from unbiased, 3rd party evaluators.