Commenters Blast Proposed FDA Food Safety Rules

The comment period for two controversial proposed FDA food safety regulations, part of the Food Safety Modernization Act, closed yesterday. What did commenters have to say?

Earlier this week Keep Food Legal, the nonprofit I lead, submitted formal comments to the FDA in opposition to two proposed food safety rules the agency is currently considering. The comment period closed yesterday.

The proposed rules, mandated thanks to passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (“FSMA”) in 2011, would increase the regulatory burden faced by fruit and vegetable farmers and other food handlers, packers, and sellers and require many to adopt procedural standards the FDA claims would prevent a small percentage of foodborne illness (between 3.7% and 5.7%, according to Keep Food Legal’s research).

Keep Food Legal also joined with the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance and others to submit joint comments authored by FARFA pertaining to an existing amendment to the FSMA, commonly referred to as the Tester Amendment, which requires the FDA to exempt small farmers from many FSMA requirements.

As of noon yesterday, the FDA had received about 12,000 comments on the proposed produce rule and more than 5,000 on the procedural standards rule.

In our independent comments, we urged the FDA to reject the proposed rules for three reasons—1) the proposed rules would hurt small farmers, other small food entrepreneurs, and their customers; 2) the proposed rules, despite their great cost, are unlikely to make food any safer; and 3) the proposed rules violate the U.S. Constitution.

Rather than rehash Keep Food Legal’s comments here, I urge you to read them at our website—and to check out my previous columns (like this one and this one) and my 2012 law journal article on the FSMA and food safety.

Instead, I’d like to highlight a few of those comments I’ve read that were made by others around the country.

In doing so, I won’t pretend to have read (nor to have any intent to read) the thousands of comments submitted to the FDA as part of the rulemakings. But in reading several dozen comments, I’ve noticed some common themes coursing through the comments.

First, small farmers appear to be united in their opposition to the proposed rules.

Tellingly, I did not come across a single commenter who both identified herself or himself as a small farmer and who also supported the proposed rules.

Small farmer Kyle Young’s comments typified those of small farmers opposing the proposed rules. Young referred to himself as “a small farmer utilizing farming techniques that have been safely providing food for humans for the past 10,000 years[.]”

Western Pennsylvania farmers Donald and Rebecca Kretschmann, who grow fruits and vegetables on fifteen acres and sell their produce via a burgeoning CSA program, also commented in opposition to the proposed rules.

“The FSMA has the real potential to make it impossible for small produce growers to make a living by requiring costly and we feel unnecessary alterations to the way produce is handled,” wrote the Kretschmanns.

And small farmer Erica Gruebler commented that she is “deeply concerned about the impact that FDA’s proposed rules under FSMA would have on my farm and business as well as my family.”

Second, some groups representing farmers also appear to oppose the proposed rules.

The Rhode Island Farm Bureau, in its comments, urged the FDA not to adopt the rules, which it says will “drive a lot of farmers out of business.”

The Wisconsin Farmers Union argued that the proposed “rules could potentially have devastating effects on small and medium sized produce farmers.”

Third, members of the public health community should be commended for criticizing the proposed rules.

The comments of Sam Dickman, a third-year medical student at Harvard University, typified some of the public-health community’s welcome opposition to the proposed rules.

“I am very concerned about the ways that the FSMA rules as currently outlined will threaten the viability of small to midsize family farms and new farmers,” writes Dickman.

Dayna Green-Burgeson, a farmer and registered dietician, commented about her concerns over “the impact that FDA’s proposed FSMA rules will have both on my ability to farm and on my patient’s access to locally grown, healthy and tasty fruits and vegetables at a reasonable price.”

Jane Pearson, a Washington State physician, noted in her comments that she’s “concerned that these additional rules will make it more difficult for [local farmers] to continue supplying our community with healthy food and the support they give to creating healthier environments for us locally.”

And Joseph Kohn, a doctor and farmer, commented that he’s “deeply concerned about the impact that FDA’s proposed rules under FSMA would have on my food business and the farms that I buy food from.”

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that opposition to the proposed rules is not universal.

Some commenters view the proposed rules quite differently than I do. Take, for example, a group called the Center for Progressive Reform.

“Not only will it substantially prevent many of the wide-ranging harms associated with contaminated produce,” writes the CPR, commenting in support of the proposed produce rule, “but it will do so at a reasonable cost[.]”

I suppose that’s true, if by “substantially prevent[ing]” harms at a “reasonable cost” the CPR means spending hundreds millions of dollars in order to decrease foodborne illness by somewhere between zero and two percentage points.

So will the FDA adopt these costly rules and crush small farmers? Only time will tell.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • JidaKida||

    Sometimes man you jsut have to roll with it.

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  • alexisaudrey||

    my classmate's step-sister makes $83/hr on the computer. She has been fired for nine months but last month her payment was $14664 just working on the computer for a few hours. go.....W­W­W.D­U­B­3­0.C­O­M

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    If a federal bureaucracy cannot insert itself firmly between two entities otherwise willingly engaged in a transaction, then what is it good for I ask you.

    Anyway, the nation needs to finally be put on bread and water. Anything else is a dangerous luxury.

  • Ted S.||

    Anyway, the nation needs to finally be put on bread and water.

    Good old carb-loading.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    Carb and gluten loading. Who ever said the gov't can't be efficient?

  • RachelMcCarter23100||

    until I saw the bank draft that said $8966, I be certain ...that...my father in law woz like they say truley bringing in money in their spare time on their apple laptop.. there neighbour has done this less than seventeen months and resently paid the dept on there mini mansion and bought a gorgeous Porsche 911. I went here,... www.jump85.com

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Bread. I miss thee, blithe companion of my youth.

  • Ted S.||

    Fisty is trying to kill SugarFree too by giving him only bread.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Before long I would have to clothing shop at Omar's Fine Tents.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    If he cannot survive on bread then maybe God does not want him to live.

  • wadair||

    Sugarcoating is unhealthy.

  • Ted S.||

    Miley Ray Cyrus turns 21 today, making her old enough to drink legally in the US.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Really? Now I have to see Miley Cyrus train wreck ads when I come here too?

  • Ted S.||

    I've only got cached images set to load, and no embedded flash videos until I tell them to play. I don't see the ads.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    I only saw your "Miley" message after I posted mine, BTW.

    Funny what gets me is not what she's decided to do with herself, but that she can manipulate the whole world into paying attention. They're acting like a bunch of rube teen boys.

  • Ted S.||

    Ah, so you must be complaining about the new Taboola shit. You're not the only one who hates that.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Ah! I do see "by Taboola." Yep, that's what I was whining about.
    It must stick in crap that other people look at. I don't give two shits about self-destructing Pop Tarts. I wouldn't even know about it if I could get away from it.

  • R C Dean||

    I am mystified by her firm grasp on the world's eyeballs. I mean, she's basically average looking, and her place in the pop pantheon depends entirely on her willingness to display her averagosity. Weird.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Straight outta Compton! A crazy m_____f_____ named Ice Cube
    With a song that NSFW
    Nina Gordon does a cover that's so many kinds of wrong
    Sings it to a tune that's like a sappy love song

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NG2EGOB9-lc

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I have just made the vow that this is the music that will play my daughter down the aisle.

    As a Justice of the Peace, it has already been determined that I will officiate what ever ceremony she has if she chooses to get married. However, this is now a non-negotiable.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    What have I done?

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Fuck tha wedding, she's going to hate tonight and the rest of your life.

    ;)

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Nina Gordon does a cover that's so many kinds of wrong

    I feel violated. Like if Milli Vanilli did a cover of Hair of the Dog.

  • From the Tundra||

    If that's wrong, I don't wanna be right.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Like a P.B.L.T. (peanut butter, lettuce and tomato sandwich).

  • Entropy Void||

    I'll just leave this here ...

    http://youtu.be/pIo81Fk6J5g

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    He may have smoked crack, but at least he didn't mess with Torontans' health insurance:

    "The last Forum poll, conducted a day after Ford's Nov. 5 admission that he had lied for the previous six months about having smoked crack, showed the mayor had the approval of 44% of respondents....

    "The latest Gallup poll on Obama's popularity showed it at a low point for his administration at 39%..."

    http://www.latimes.com/world/w.....z2lTfzDizt

  • wadair||

    Are you suggesting that Obama smoke crack to improve his ratings?

  • Sevo||

    Imagine writing a law that makes certain toy guns illegal if the look like...
    "Proposed bill would ban realistic toy guns"
    http://www.sfgate.com/default/.....002356.php

  • Live Free or Diet||

    "One month after 13 year-old Andy Lopez was shot and killed by a Sonoma County sheriff deputy as he held a replica of an AK-47 assault rifle, California state legisaltors announced plans to introduce legislation called the Imitation Firearm Safety Act which would regulate immitation firearms and require that toy guns be painted in bright colors."

    Let's see if I got this:
    Don't blame the cop who misused his real weapon.
    Can't blame the murdered kid.
    Blame the toy.

  • Sevo||

    "Blame the toy."
    So when the hardware stores sell black paint to cover up the day-glo government marks, the guy'll outlaw black paint!
    Gee, he's just come up with a way to keep busy forever!

  • R C Dean||

    One month after 13 year-old Andy Lopez was shot in the back and killed

    I kind of see that as a key detail, myself.

  • Killazontherun||

    Nuke the California State Assembly, they are the new California State Assembly, and just as bad. That is all.

  • SusanM||

    "So will the FDA adopt these costly rules and crush small farmers?"

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPwxgml0Q3A

  • SusanM||

  • BakedPenguin||

    I think it was Episiarch who linked to a Cracked article on cops.

  • Killazontherun||

    Merely eight times more likely to get killed by a terrorist than a cop? It's got to be much higher than that, domestically. Terrorist killed people on one single day this year, the Boston Marathon incident; okay, make it two, if you count the LAX incident, cops kill close to every day of the year.

  • SusanM||

    It's worth repeating

  • Irish||

    First, small farmers appear to be united in their opposition to the proposed rules.

    On the other hand:

    LET the farmer, so far as I am concerned, be damned forevermore. To Hell with him, and bad luck to him. He is a tedious fraud and ignoramus, a cheap rogue and hypocrite, the eternal Jack of the human pack. He deserves all that he ever suffers under our economic system, and more. Any city man, not insane, who sheds tears for him is shedding tears of the crocodile.

    No more grasping, selfish and dishonest mammal, indeed, is known to students of the Anthropoidea. When the going is good for him he robs the rest of us up to the extreme limit of our endurance; when the going is bad be comes bawling for help out of the public till. Has anyone ever heard of a farmer making any sacrifice of his own interests, however slight, to the common good? Has anyone ever heard of a farmer practising or advocating any political idea that was not absolutely self-seeking–that was not, in fact, deliberately designed to loot the rest of us to his gain?

    - H.L. Mencken

    I'll weep for the small farmer when they stop voting based on who's willing to give them the biggest subsidy.

  • OneOut||

    The "small " farmer is not where your ire should be directed.

  • Redmanfms||

    The "small " farmer is not where your ire should be directed.

    The "small" farmer is every bit as sanctimonious (well, more so actually) and parasitic as the corporate farmer. At least the agri-corp farmer makes more efficient use of the land.

    Nearly all of the subsidies available to big farmers are also available to "small" farmers. And they love that shit. I know people who raise animals for their own consumption who receive thousands of dollars a year in subsidies. I'd do it myself (because who doesn't love free money??) were it not for the degree of intimacy with the USDA required to get and maintain the free cash. You don't have to sell anything at all, you absolutely do not have to be a commercial farmer.

    I dated a girl who got a couple nice fat subsidy checks every year because she had a 1/8th acre garden and some chickens in her backyard.

    And the commercial farmers? Don't believe for a second that any of those whiny motherfuckers are "poor." Their profit margins are staggering. My neighbor makes $400,000+ a year with a 120-acre sheep operation. Plus whatever he gets from his day job. Were it not for subsidies he'd probably still make a little money, but it would be measured in low tens of thousands, not hundreds of thousands.

  • alexisaudrey||

    my classmate's step-sister makes $83/hr on the computer. She has been fired for nine months but last month her payment was $14664 just working on the computer for a few hours. go.....W­W­W.D­U­B­3­0.C­O­M

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  • montana mike||

    What I find ironic around here is most of the farmers market growers are proggy types who don't realize that when they vote for the MOAR government crowd they actually get more government...who knew.

    Good example is one of our outgoing city council progtards wants to pass a law outlawing businesses having "going out of Business" sales from bringing in merchandise from another locale. He justifies it by saying a pal of his who owns a boutique outdoor shop (the overpriced kind) had a bad month when some competitor had a similar sale and it's not fair. Then they wonder why this shit happens...pretty comical.

  • Car Scanner||

    It's important to keep food safe.

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