FDA

New Law Passed. Food Now Safe.

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Death peanut! Save me, FDA!

Yesterday the House passed a shiny new food safety bill, since the one we've been using dates from 1938 and it was all old-timey and stuff. The bill, which the Senate will take up in the fall, gives the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) a bunch of new inspection and tracking powers. Also, there's more funding for food safety research—because it's not like anyone else is out there trying to extend safe shelf life or otherwise prevent food-borne illness.

Upon passage, bill author Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) crowed (in a Washington Post print edition pull quote, no less):

"This will fundamentally change the way in which we ensure the safety of our food supply."

Which, when you stop and think about it, is a weird thing to hype. Not that our food will be safer—no promises there—but that we are totally going to do all the bureaucratic stuff differently now. Ah, Washington.

More on the FDA's well intentioned but occasionally redundant efforts to look out for our health here and here.

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  1. Quick, lazy question: does this encompass any of the new livestock registration stuff? That seems like it would be related to fascist food administration to me.

  2. Having anyone who processes or sells food subject to unlimited and causeless inspection seems ripe for political abuse.

  3. Anon– no, that was stripped out. But now any food producer has to pony up $500 so that they can be registered as such. Basically, we’ve got new drapes for the window regarding food safety, but the fat cats can put more regulatory screws to the mom & pop operations.

  4. Anyone know how much food poisoning would be prevented by simply irradiating food during processing? Someone in the ground beef business told me it is almost 100% but that irradiation does alter the taste of beef. Other than that, consumers are irrational about buying anything irradiated.

  5. Way to beat Bailey to the punch.

    *That’s only meaningful to anyone involved in the “Real Farmer” discussion this morning.

    Oh and yay, looks like I’m spending an additional $500 dollars to get the winery going…

  6. Oh and yay, looks like I’m spending an additional $500 dollars to get the winery going…

    I suspect $500 is decimal dust for a new winery.

  7. “HR 2749 charges the Secretary of Health and Human Services with establishing a tracing system for food. Each “person who produces, manufactures, processes, packs, transports, or holds such food” would have to “maintain the full pedigree of the origin and previous distribution history of the food,” and “establish and maintain a system for tracing the food that is interoperable with the systems established and maintained by other such persons.”

    The bill does not explain how far the traceback will extend or how it will be done for multi-ingredient foods. With all these ambiguities, it’s far from clear how much it will cost either the farmers or the taxpayers.

    I assume a handwritten note, “I growed it, I put it in the back of my truck, and I sold it to the lady in the red car” will not suffice. The stories I can tell my child about buying a dozen ears of corn for two dollars from the guy at the bottom of the exit ramp will be just that to him. Stories. Sigh.

  8. I hear you’ll be provided a FREE Chia Obama just for sending in your $500.

  9. Ah, my old friend “interoperability”. The health care industry has been working on “interoperable” medical records for at least ten years. If they’ve made any progress, I haven’t noticed it.

    Although, when you think about it, ink on paper is pretty goddam interoperable. But they want to mandate an electronic system. Another high-dollar capital item that will drive out the small producers in favor of the big ones.

  10. Anyone know how much food poisoning would be prevented by simply irradiating food during processing?

    I was promoting irradiation a week or so when we were talking about E coli in fresh greens.

    It would have the single biggest impact on public health of all the possible “food safety” procedures that are not currently being used.

  11. I suspect $500 is decimal dust for a new winery.

    Yeah, but I’ll get a lot more good out of the $500 we just paid for a new stainless steel fermenting tank than I will whatever the hell this is for.

  12. V&C

    Just curious, is the five hundred smackers a onetime charge or something Uncle Sugar will be coming around for each year?

  13. ‘SEC. 743. FACILITY REGISTRATION FEE.

    ‘(a) In General-

    ‘(1) ASSESSMENT AND COLLECTION- Beginning in fiscal year 2010, the Secretary shall assess and collect an annual fee for the registration of a facility under section 415.

    As far as I can tell it says annual. I did see that alcohol venues (wineries?) are exempt, but we were thinking food as well. Vines & Cattle

    Not that the .gov doesn’t have enough hurdles to get through already when it comes to booze.

  14. Food producers do harm to the community, therefore they should be charged fees for the privilege of serving the community.

  15. The only hope then is to hope the Senate either kills the whole thing or at least amends the $500 charge out of there.

    Anyhow, good luck on this and good luck on your venture.

    Let us know when you have you first batch in the bottle. 🙂

  16. Thanks!

    We have yet to take on the getting legally bonded and all the bonafides, but our acre of Syrah grapes are in their third year and we’ll take some production off this August.

    We won’t be able to sell of course, and I’d never ship a bottle out of state for barter compensation.

    That would be illegal…

  17. “Yeah, but I’ll get a lot more good out of the $500 we just paid for a new stainless steel fermenting tank than I will whatever the hell this is for.”

    This is to ensure you don’t continue your rampage of poisonings that your customers gladly come back for more of.

    After all, every single food and beverage company out there would like nothing more than to poison every last one of its customers.

  18. FDA Website (“What We Do”): “The FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.”

    Dingell: “Americans are dying because the Food and Drug Administration does not have authority to protect them.”

    So, the FDA is responsible but lacks authority?

    Seems the reverse situation of many agencies.

  19. The question is not indegrientah. And in what their origin. What fed cows – beans. What – genomodified. Poisoning can not be, but sure that this does not affect our future, I do not have or who I will not give an affirmative answer.

  20. The question is not indegrientah. And in what their origin. What fed cows – beans. What – genomodified. Poisoning can not be, but sure that this does not affect our future, I do not have or who I will not give an affirmative answer.

    Thank you very much for your astute comments, Mr. Dom. I will definitely incorporate them into the next version of my bill.

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