Some in GOP Want to Scrap Food Safety Bill

Jan 06, 2011
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Republican majority
in the House
of Representatives
has come
to the new
session of
with the
stated goal
of shrinking
the size of the government.

One piece of legislation that some GOP members
believe America can do without is The Food Safety Modernization Act signed
into law on Tuesday by President Obama. The bill had the wide support of food
industry groups and members of both parties voted in large numbers to pass

Rep. Jack Kingston (R – GA), who is looking to become chairman of the agriculture
subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, has expressed doubt in
a number of interviews about the need for a bill that will cost $1.4 billion
over five years. Mr. Kingston, who said he might look to withhold funding to
implement the provisions of the bill, told The Associated Press that
currently “our
food supply is 99.999 percent safe.”

Supporters claimed the law would
give the Food and Drug Administration tools it needs to protect Americans.
About 3,000 people die every year from foodborne illnesses and many thousands
more become ill, according to estimates. Once implemented, the bill is projected
to save roughly $152 billion a year lost to medical costs and reduced productivity.

Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association, said in
a statement, “This legislation represents meaningful improvements
to the food safety system and focuses FDA’s mission on prevention. As
part of this legislation, we will see enhancements to our food safety system,
including additional hazard analysis, food safety planning, and increased inspections
– all important measures to ensure food entering the supply chain is safe.”

Wolford, chairman, president and CEO of Del Monte Foods and chairman of the
board for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, said the legislation was “the
result of Congress working effectively, of partnering with industry to create
and pass the best possible legislation for American consumers. We are proud
of the bipartisan, industry-supported efforts that helped to carry this important
legislation across the finish line.”

Discussion Questions: Do you think the benefits of funding The Food
Safety Modernization Act outweigh the negatives of not funding it? Should the
food industry lobby Congress to stand behind implementation of the law?

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10 Comments on "Some in GOP Want to Scrap Food Safety Bill"

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Max Goldberg
10 years 4 months ago

There should not be room for ideology when discussing food safety. Consumers look to government to make sure that their food is safe. A bipartisan Congress passed the legislation and funded it. This is an example (one of many, I fear) of the Republicans misreading their recent election victory.

Dan Berthiaume
Dan Berthiaume
10 years 4 months ago

This is an extremely irresponsible move by the new Congress. There has been a surge of contamination in the US food supply in recent years, with numerous product recalls as well as hospitalizations and even deaths. Especially considering the potential for terrorists to tamper with the nation’s food supply, it is inconceivable the Republicans want to repeal the Food Safety Bill. Shouldn’t the greatest nation on Earth have the greatest (and safest) food supply?

Cathy Hotka
10 years 4 months ago

This is just the first of a number of strategies the Republicans have to eliminate common-sense government oversight of critical industries. It should be interesting to watch the reaction from industry groups who consistently lobby for Republican principles.

Anne Howe
10 years 4 months ago

Food Safety is not something that should be bantered about in Congress. For the sake of our citizens, the regulations should be tighter and stay that way. In the long run, the U.S. can’t afford to open the door to be thought of as global food producers that can’t be trusted.

I shudder as I think about some of the stories that come from China. The politicians need to get their kids at the table and wear their shoes for a while until they can agree not one of their own kids should be at risk! Ever.

Ed Dennis
Ed Dennis
10 years 4 months ago
Food Safety is a potential problem in two ways: 1) process contamination and 2) intentional contamination. This past year we have seen several incidents of process contamination and massive recalls (eggs, bagged salads, etc.). In many instances processors pay for federal oversight of their facilities, this includes all governed by the the USDC; the Department of Commerce oversees much food production. All seafood processing is governed by the USDC and the processors pay for the USDC oversight. Now all of theses companies would like to free themselves of this expense and get us (the US taxpayer) to pay this bill for them like we do for the beef industry. I have actually read the changes to the bill and seriously don’t see anything new in it other than authorizing the FDA to hire tons of new employees. All of the earth shaking changes it seeks to implement have been in place for years at facilities governed by the USDC. This seems like it is more of a ploy to expand the FDA bureaucracy. As to… Read more »
Lee Peterson
10 years 4 months ago

Post Office, yes, Food Safety, are we crazy? If “smaller government” means prolific food poisoning, the idea seems ludicrous. Who’s going to regulate it, Con Agra? Anyway, guess I agree with everyone above.

Craig Sundstrom
10 years 4 months ago

“…our food supply is 99.999 percent safe.”

Probably true, but the public wants it to be 100% safe…of course–just as with air safety–they don’t want to spend anything or put up with any inconvenience to try to achieve that .001% (and “try” is the key word here since perfection is never attainable). The alarmist numbers put forth are meaningless (though they may well be true) since most sources of contamination are local, occurring AFTER shipment in stores, restaurants and, yes, homes. So the next time Rep. Blab Q. Blab thunders on about “keeping America safe,” remember he (or she) likely applies the 5-Second Rule in their own life.

Mark Burr
10 years 4 months ago
Sometimes no legislation is better than bad legislation. It may be politically correct as an association or a group to ‘commend’ the legislation, but that doesn’t make it good legislation. Anything that costs $1.4 billion in additional funding over five years is worth an additional look, especially if it is run by our federal government – period. Simply spending money won’t make our food safer. The current FDA budget is $3.2 billion and that’s up nearly 20% from the prior year. Is it realistic to believe that we will get a 65% improvement in food safety in 5 years? If it’s believed that our food is actually 99.999% safe, is it reasonable to expect that it costs a 65% increase in the entire FDA budget to close that .001% gap? It’s a larger percentage yet when broken down to their portion of the budget devoted to food and dramatically when devoted to inspection and safety. There may be portions of the bill that would be effective. However, no reasonable expectation of success can be expected.… Read more »
George Anderson
10 years 4 months ago

As Richard Wolford’s comment points out, the food industry was directly involved in developing this legislation and getting it passed. The releases put out by the associations weren’t just a case of niceties, there was some serious self congratulation going on, as well.

Herb Sorensen
10 years 4 months ago
I’m with Scanner on this. This is a massive expansion of government regulation, by an agency of seriously questioned competence. Many are probably unaware of relatively light regulation of the food industry–other than labeling–to this massive USDA style continuous inspection. It is shocking to me how little public attention this legislation garnered as it was raced into law by a lame duck legislature. The fact that big industry supported it is about as persuasive as that Wall Street supports revised financial regulation. Acting as if the “mom and apple pie” (food safety) designation of this explosive increase in regulation of one fourth of the US economy is not very thoughtful. A huge amount of the American food industry is small business. The giant businesses supporting this legislation are “murdering” their small competition that is in aggregate, some significant competition. Maybe putting a lot of small businesses out of business, along with the attendant jobs, is an acceptable price, in addition to the untold billions of increased government expenditure certain to follow. Let’s hope the present… Read more »

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