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Rep. Dingell's Food Safety Bill

by: Jill Richardson

Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 15:17:51 PM PDT


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There's lots in the news about food safety, but the number one thing I'd like to talk about is Rep. Dingell's bill in Congress (H.R.759). There's a general sense that his bill will be the one (if any) that passes. So let's talk about it.
Jill Richardson :: Rep. Dingell's Food Safety Bill
The good in Dingell's bill:
  • Doesn't mandate NAIS.
  • Gives small businesses longer to comply with the law.
  • Expands COOL to processed foods.
  • Gives mandatory recall authority to the FDA.
  • Requires labeling for meat/poultry/seafood treated with carbon monoxide.

There are some things that worry me though:

  • This bill does NOT establish a new food safety agency. Many have called for that including Tom Vilsack. Marion Nestle is for it, I believe. I don't know where I stand but I'm inclined to believe Marion Nestle.
  • Charges "user fees" to food facilities (a facility that "manufactures, packs, transports, or holds food for consumption") to cover the costs of inspecting them. Obviously I'm opposed to this if it applies to small, local businesses. If this applies to everyone equally then the larger the business, the easier it is to pay. It's regressive. Why can't we just let everyone pay their taxes (including businesses) and then take the money for this out of the taxes? And if food safety is expensive, then maybe we need to increase or enforce taxes on businesses.
  • Requires inspections, at minimum every 4 years. Who's getting inspected? PCA obviously needed those inspections. Small farms? Hobby farms? The woman who sells jam at my farmers' market? Probably not so much. Not like the FDA has the funding or the staff to inspect small farms anyway...
  • FDA will set regulations for safe harvesting/production of fruits and vegetables. This worries me. Hopefully it will be done with input from farmers because there sometimes seems to be an idea by non-farmers that farms should be sterile and that's no good.
  • Expands traceability requirements to farms and restaurants from DeLauro's bill. I'm a skeptic about traceability in general. It's a nice idea but seems burdensome and expensive. Wouldn't a better use of resources be prevention, testing, and inspection?

I'll be interested to hear what others say about this - particularly farmers. It seems like the huge publicity HR 875 is getting has resulted in Dingell's bill getting very little scrutiny by our community.

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Yes! (4.00 / 1)
Why can't we just let everyone pay their taxes (including businesses) and then take the money for this out of the taxes? And if food safety is expensive, then maybe we need to increase or enforce taxes on businesses.

Isn't it obvious by now that Reagan's "ideas" (okay, they weren't his - but he certainly deserves the blame'credit' for having his Administration implement most of them) were massive, harmful failures?  Can we get some people in charge who once again realize that taxes are the price we all pay to live in a working, civilized society?

Thanks for the write-up on this bill - I'm not too familiar with it, either.  I have some catching up to do!


you and me both! (4.00 / 1)
it's been so under the radar!

"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 ]
Yeah, this part sounds a bit worrying... (4.00 / 1)
FDA will set regulations for safe harvesting/production of fruits and vegetables. This worries me. Hopefully it will be done with input from farmers because there sometimes seems to be an idea by non-farmers that farms should be sterile and that's no good.

I can just see agribiz and the chemical companies, right now, gleefully rubbing their hands together at the opportunity to define "safe harvesting/production" practices...


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