Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Food Safety Bill That Doesn’t Help Everyone

It is no surprise that the concern regarding the safety of our food has risen recently. Over the past few years foods like meat, peanut butter, spinach and eggs have become tainted with food borne illnesses and undergone nation-wide recalls. So when the U.S. Senate passed the Food Safety Modernization Act (SB 510) on November 30, 2010, we all assumed that it was a step in the right direction--right?

The answer is both yes and no.

On the one hand this bill will regulate standards and requirements to limit food safety risks.
Safety guidelines would be put in place and farmers would be encouraged to use environmental conservation practices on their farms in order to reduce the likelihood of contamination with food-borne pathogens.

All of which is according to the Senate committee.

SB 510 would also allow the FDA to mandate that a company recall a food product it suspects is infected.  And when each year approximately 75 million illnesses, including approximately 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths, occur because of tainted food, more regulation in the food industry seems like a great idea.

But what the bill fails to do is fueling opposition with small farms and raw milk producers.

Groups in opposition of this bill complain that the Tester/Hagen Amendment that was recently added to the bill excludes small farmers and farms making less than $500,000 annually.

They argue that the bill will give the FDA too much power and that eventually they will abuse it. The bill threatens to exclude local and organic farms as well due to its one-size-fits all policy.

SB 510 still has to be voted on in the House. But with this many discrepancies regarding certain farmers, I believe that this bill should undergo more revisions to include the groups of people that they have seemed to have left out.

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