| 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:
|Company||Amount (Total Lobbying, Not Just Food Safety)
First quarter 2009 only
|Food Marketing Institute
Grocery Manufacturers Association
National Restaurant Association
Center for Science in the Public Interest
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.