Food Safety: how much of it is it the government’s job?

There has been some noise about S. 510 the Food Safety Modernization Act.

In the recent past there have been some issues with some of the food that many of take for granted in our local grocery stores. In March 2009 the FDA issued a recall of peanut butter because of a possible salmonella contamination. In Jun of 2010 bagged spinach was recalled because of possible E. Coli.

More recently in August 2010 our nation had its largest egg recall. There have also been recalls for ground beef, brats, among items.

The American people demanded our government do something to make sure our food supply is safe. Investigations were conducted. Congress held hearings. What was found out there is a patchwork about 15 or so agencies responsible for inspecting and grading our food. In 2003 alone the FDA and USDA duplicated over 1400 food safety inspections, according to the Government Account Office.

Out of all those investigations and hearing came the Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510). This bill would grant the FDA additional power and resources to monitor our food supply. In an E-mail response from Senator John Thune,

The Senate recently considered the Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510). If enacted, this legislation would create a number of new regulations and grant the FDA additional power and resources to monitor our nation’s food supply. Unfortunately, this bill would not address the problems associated with inefficiencies in the multi-agency oversight of food safety. Furthermore, by adding numerous new government jobs, this bill will continue to add to an increasingly unsustainable debt. At the cost of up to $1.4 billion, this bill could lead to an additional 17,800 government workers. As our country looks seriously at ways to tackle our looming debt and deficit problems, it is imperative that Congress resists increasing the size of the federal employee base. For these reasons, I could not support the cloture motion to end debate or the final passage of this bill when it was considered by the Senate on November 30, 2010. Regrettably, this bill passed the Senate by a margin of 73-25 and is currently awaiting consideration by the House of Representatives.

And…

I believe that federal food safety laws should promote consumer choice and protect consumers from preventable outbreaks of disease and food-borne illness, while not placing undue burdens on agriculture producers in South Dakota, increasing the size of our government or adding to our national debt. As a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, I will continue to work with my colleagues to advance common sense food safety legislation.

I did ask our congresswoman and congresswoman elect for there stance. Our current representative did not answer, and our new one is too busy setting up shop to take a stand on the issue.

There are many people who believe the bill if enacted would force smaller producers to close up shop, because they could not afford upgrades needed to meet the new requirements. Other believe it will end farmer?s markets, and prevent family farms from providing fresh produce to some of favorite super markets.

It wasn’t so long ago, that we were growing our own ‘rescission gardens’ I even heard of some people going out and getting miniature cattle and goats to trim the lawns and the milk and meat. I’m glad that never caught on. While at one time we did grow our food, I fear some of us have lost some of that know how, we have exchange it for knowledge of how to set up a wireless network and send IM around the world.

We are Americans. We can over come great obstacles. Just get out of the way. The free market does work. Put in some common sense rules and a streamlined inspection and recall process. If there is a bad egg in the bunch, they will be found out and driven out of business.

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35 Replies to “Food Safety: how much of it is it the government’s job?”

  1. Anonymous

    In a way a lot of farmers who do not take subsidies cannot compete with those farmers who do. This is just one more way for the larger farmers to increase their hold on the market.

  2. Arrowhead

    MC,

    I’m glad you are bringing this issue into the SD blogosphere. Good work my man!!!

    I’m happy to see Thune’s stance. Though I do want to know if he allowed it to come to the floor for a vote.

  3. Les

    Agreed Arrowhead, ag and energy(really synonymous) are about the only grassroots economies functioning in America.

    If they are destroyed the US is done as we know her.

  4. Haggs

    I’ve been arguing about this with Michael at Constant Conservative. I think that, in the case of food safety, deregulation and “letting the free market handle it” is stupid and dangerous. When it comes to our food, we need tough regulations and lots of federal food inspectors.

  5. CaveMan

    You need to start firing Federal Employees Senator Thune; not hiring more of them. Bankrupt companies do not start new departments! They CLEAN HOUSE!!

    The fiefdom continues.

    Start with Obama and his crew in 12…………. 🙂

  6. caheidelberger

    Hey, Arrowhead: I already brought it into the SD blogosphere. The food safety bill is a good idea… and it even includes, thanks to the Tester-Hagan amendment, protections for small farmers that give preference to strong local food safety control. Our farm neighbors Chuck Grassley and Mike Johanns voted for it. Thune’s blowing smoke for obstructionism.

    And Mike, cute how you make an excuse for Noem’s non-response, but not Herseth Sandlin’s.

  7. MC Post author

    Cory,

    I would like to say I made the excuse for Noem’s non-response, however, that was the answer I got when I asked.

    Congresswoman Herseth Sandlin’s office hung up on me when I called.

  8. Troy Jones

    I believe we need more nutritious foods on the shelves, believe the current farming practices using genetically modified grains conducive to yields and chemical tolerance hinders nutrition and health, etc.

    I also think there is a vital role for food regulations which enhance food safety. However, the current situation is so convoluted, disjointed, expensive to administer (both for the food provider and government), built on unrealistic expectations and goals, the current system already makes food too expensive for consumers and actually imperils food safety.

    This bill will only make everything worse.

  9. now hear this

    Let the free market decide? Are you people serious? Should we then make the speed limit a “free market” issue and let people decide what street is safest to drive down while risking their lives to do so?

    These food borne illnesses KILL PEOPLE. It’s not a free market issue, it’s life or death.

  10. Bill Fleming

    I’ve seen first hand how growers (especially big corporate growers in California) keep food prices up when they want to, Troy. And I’ve also seen how they can drop them to run small local farmers out of business. And neither pricing technique had anything at all to do with FDA regulations. I’m just sayin’.

  11. Troy Jones

    now hear this:

    You are right. It is a matter of life and death.

    Unfortunately, this boondoggle (and so many of the other regulations) are only making it more likely people will die.

    Go to Europe and eat their daily fresh foods which are primarily sold w/ little regulation. Because of this excessive regulation, we have excessive reliance on processed foods and expensive fresh foods.

  12. Les

    The best regulator was the proud family farmer, now almost extinct!

    All of you thinking farm regulation was for our best interests, look back at what it has given us.

    Supersize Me an HBO special saw a healthy young man go almost terminal in less than 30 days of eating the Mac Supersize meal daily. But it wont kill you, as least not in one sitting!

  13. Les

    Now hear this 9:54, food borne illness can kill, hmmmmm, what else can kill? Cars, motorcycles, airplanes, alcohol, skateboards,cribs,……………………………………………………..Wo lose 5 people to ecoli and the US goes upside down, but it is just damn fine to kill thousands daily to drunk drivers.

  14. now hear this

    Thanks for proving my point Les. Those things can kill and are therefore regulated. Should we let crib makers just run free in the “free market” and then when my kid dies I just won’t buy one from that company again?

    The CDC says 76 million people get sick from food each year and about 5,000 die. So since it’s a low number we should just forget about it? If your loved one dies from salmonella shall we just say, “Well, guess I won’t be buying peanut butter from that company again.”

  15. DDC

    More people die each year from over-eating “safe” food than die from food-borne illness.

    We need to end this epidemic by immediately banning all food. It’s the only way to save ourselves.

  16. Les

    You have made no point 12:42.

    At one time we were considered smart enough to look at a crib and say, “my that crib looks like my kid could squeeze through and choke”. Now it isn’t our fault if we kill our kid through lack of concern or stupidity.

    CDC’s numbers are junk. Food prep is the number 1 prob with that.

    It is obvious that more regulation has not been working to improve safety compared to the personal responsibility that used to be in place before the gov baby sat our every move.

    There are restaurants I will not eat at knowing what is in their kitchen. You will glady eat there with your false assumption from the health depts stamp of approval.

    We currently have all the laws and then some our nation needs to run a 1000 years, but folks like you insist on begging for more gov control over your life.

    Those who wish to sacrifice freedom(liberty) for safety(security) deserve neither and will lose both.

  17. Haggs

    Y’know it was just a few years ago that us liberals were making the freedom vs. safety argument for stuff like warrentless wiretapping and the Patriot Act. And now conservatives are making the same argument for food safety regulation of all things.

    It’s interesting how both sides are willing to choose freedom over safety, but we just disagree on which parts of the government we’re willing to make that choice over.

  18. Anon

    This is among the few areas I think the government needs to be involved. It is a public-health issue. I will admit though I haven’t been able to sort out the effects on small operations.

  19. Les

    Hagg, I’m curious as to why you might think libs were alone in making the freedom/safety argument when the Patriot Crap was being force fed. I did not know a conserv who was any happier with it than I.

    Much of it was obviously supported by both parties in DC. Surprise surprise, both parties are to blame and neither is worthy of the slobber lavished upon them.

    You want many inspectors for food safety. Most food poisoning issues come from the preparer. You want someone at your cook stove to make sure the food is properly prepared while another inspector is keeping your baby from sticking his head through the rails of the crib.

    All this while we are texting, surfing the net or otherwise not paying any attention to that which our forefathers made do with much less.

  20. now hear this

    Well Les, thanks again for solidifying my points. We were once smart enough to figure out what products were good and bad? I’m sure glad you live in a fantasy world where you know everything that’s wrong with everything, and which restaurants to eat at. I’m sure your baseless assumptions on what restaurant is clean and which are dirty are spot on. Please.

    We used to think smoking was good for us, threw asbestos in every building, and covered our walls in lead.

    I wish you well in whatever world it is you think you live in. I’ll call you when I’m looking for a new crib.

  21. William

    Regulations, and their attending bureaucracies, don’t come cheap. This bill will not appreciably improve “food safety, but it will drive up food costs and consolidate more power to “Big Ag” at the expense of smaller producers.

    Some regulation of industry is needed, but not what’s in this bill.

  22. Les

    now hear tis 6:38…you like to twist. I know a bad restaurant, many will eat there convinced of the health stamp on the wall, you twist it.

    This is not about smoking, asbestos or lead mistwistit.

    I doubt you will need a new crib twistit, you seem pretty comfy in the one you’re in.

  23. wow

    The government has become Big Brother to many, so I guess it is up to the government to regulate everything, right???

  24. Bill Fleming

    “I doubt you will need a new crib twistit”.

    Is that last a pejorative, Les?

    If so, hilarious! http:
    //www.youtube.com/watch?v=VzaKMN2A58M&feature=related

    I think SDWC should maybe start giving out monthly TwisTit awards. ROTFL.

  25. Bill Fleming

    Oh wait… I just made up a hot brand!

    “The TwisTit Awards” ? © Bill Fleming 2010, All rights reserved.

    Sorry that one’s too good to just give away.

    Maybe I’ll finally do my own blog! Standby.

  26. Les

    I wasn’t necessarily so proud of myself when it was on the blog Flem.

    Yes it was on purpose, after midnight, bad attitude. An attempt at a double negative pejorative, or possibly a triple negative pejorative with mistwistit.

    Don’t you know me by now? You’ve had a hand in shaping my grammatical percipience.