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Big Food is FOR Food Safety Regulations?

by: Jill Richardson

Thu May 28, 2009 at 04:00:00 AM PDT


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The fight for safer food has officially kicked off. As I wrote yesterday, we've got a bill. Well, a draft of a bill, anyway. It's the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 and it's being introduced by Henry Waxman along with Representatives John Dingell, Bart Stupak, Diana DeGette, Frank Pallone, and Betty Sutton.

To take stock of the fight we're going to have, I began digging around lobbying records. Who's for what, and how much money are they spending. Let's see here:

CompanyAmount (Total Lobbying, Not Just Food Safety)
First quarter 2009 only
Food Marketing Institute
Kraft Foods
Grocery Manufacturers Association
Nestle
Sodexo
Miller/Coors
National Restaurant Association
3M
PepsiCo
Safeway
General Mills
Consumers Union
Center for Science in the Public Interest
$1,063,000
$770,000
$720,000
$616,843
$590,000
$550,000
$447,000
$400,000
$430,000
$350,000
$240,000
$80,000
$32,983

But wait! Before you get worried that industry is outspending consumer advocacy groups and the lobbyists are trying to kill this legislation - apparently Kraft, Kellogg, and General Mills are now FOR food safety reform! Even the Grocery Manufacturers sound open to it. My hunch? First of all, these guys see the changes coming down the pike no matter what. They want to sound agreeable so that they can make sure that whatever reform occurs is to their own liking.

And second of all, they lost a lot of money from the peanut butter incident. So in that sense, they really DO want safe food. But in the hearings thus far, they definitely sounded hesitant about how much regulation they were actually interested in. Kellogg sounded particularly uncomfortable with unannounced inspections, user fees paid to the FDA to cover the cost of inspections, and microbial testing for pathogens. Remember, their #1 priority isn't food safety, it's profit. They are only interested in food safety as a means to that end.

UPDATE: Here's what the Grocery Manufacturers has to say about the food safety bill:

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents the food industry, supports much of the legislation but objects to a $1,000 annual registration fee that would be required of all food facilities to help pay for the FDA's increased oversight. The association also objects to some of the tracing requirements, saying they would create a financial burden.
Jill Richardson :: Big Food is FOR Food Safety Regulations?
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Are you sure (4.00 / 3)
this wouldn't hurt their smaller competitors or something else like that, and that's why they're for it?

Vote for yourself at www.ni4d.us!

I don't think that's their primary motive (4.00 / 3)
In this case, Kellogg in particular got screwed bc their suppliers were unscrupulous. I think they want the govt to regulate their suppliers but not regulate them (at least, not an uncomfortable amount). They were very uneasy agreeing to unannounced inspections. They said a day's advance notice would be nice.

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
I used to work for a contractor (4.00 / 4)
who's foreman on big commercial jobs lived by the 72 hour notice OSHA had to give everyone before a safety inspection. Before the inspection just about every rule was broken, the day of all noncompliant extension cords and equipment was to remain in the gang box, and God help you if you went more than 6' off the ground without a belt and lanyard, day after the inspection = business as usual.

I have an idea that's why the big boys don't want unannounced inspections....

Normal people scare me. But not as much as I scare them.....


[ Parent ]
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