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THE U.S. SENATE WILL BE VOTING ON THE FOOD "SAFETY" BILL
By Lee Bechtel NHF Lobbyist
April 20, 2010
THE U.S. SENATE WILL BE VOTING ON THE FOOD “SAFETY” BILL
Because of several U.S. Administration nominations that have taken priority, the U.S. Senate, which was expected to take up U.S. Senator Dick Durbin’s Food Safety Act (S.510) as early as next week, will instead consider the bill in two to three weeks. When it does, there are several issues likely to be addressed with amendments to the bill. As readers will recall, this bill is more trash on a stick, intended not to address any food-safety problems but simply to expand government control over the food economy.
What’s at Stake
S.510 is nothing more than the House bill H.R.2749 in Senate clothing. It requires registration of all food facilities, including manufacturers, processors, packers and storage facilities. Any such facility that introduces food into interstate commerce without being registered and having paid the mandatory registration fee would be subject to penalties for marketing misbranded food.
But there’s more – registered facilities must implement hazard analysis, risk-based preventive controls, and food safety plans. For large commercial operations and Agribusiness with their retained professional staffs of attorneys and accountants, these additional costs will be barely noticed, and certainly passed on to us consumers; but for small farms and small operations, these regulatory requirements will be oppressively burdensome, even fatal. Just as ominously, and in typical Washington, D.C. fashion, the proposed law would cause supplement manufacturers who are already subject to intensive Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), to scrap their just-implemented GMPs and implement instead another set of costly GMPs! Fortunately, Senators Hatch and Harkin are taking action to ensure that supplement companies are exempted.
In essence, though, this bill proposes total Federal government control over and tracking of food production, distribution, and sales – supposedly to ensure “food safety” but which powers in fact would be unconstitutional and unnecessary. Under S.510/H.R.2749, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would empower the government to regulate food production at all levels, up and down the chain of production. This seems quite laughable seeing that for some time now mainstream media headlines have reported that the FDA is unable to keep up with food-safety regulation at any level, so, why add to their already unattainable workload?
Then, as a kicker, the bill provides for criminal prosecution of those producers, manufacturers, and distributors who fail to comply with the new laws, and punitive property seizures and large fines for each offense upon conviction. And for those who have been following Codex, you have almost certainly not missed the fact that S.510/H.R.2749’s “science-based” approach tracks that found in Codex food guidelines.
The Latest News on S.510
The latest from Senate staff insiders is that Senators Hatch, Harkin, and Enzi will be offering a Manager’s Amendment to clean up details not clearly addressed when the Senate HELP committee unanimously approved S.510 last Fall.
In particular, they will offer clearer language on the FDA's involvement with Codex and dietary supplements. In the original Harkin bill reported from committee, language was included asking the FDA to report to Congress on whether and how to harmonize foreign food-processing standards with U.S. law, but stating that Codex does not apply to the US regulation of supplements. The revised language directs the FDA to report to Congress on any Codex activities related to conventional food and/or supplement standards under consideration, before taking any regulatory action in the future. This is almost precisely what the NHF, the Sunshine Health Freedom Foundation, and the National Health Freedom Coalition were supporting and pushing last Fall (see http://www.thenhf.com/press_releases/pr_20_nov_2009.html), even though other groups were oblivious to the need to do this at that time. Some have changed their tune since then.
In fact, recently, there was an announced “victory” concerning supplements having been exempted from Codex language in the "Food Safety" bill, which sounded quite nice as consumers definitely need more victories in any food-related legislation. Unfortunately, though, as anyone following this bill closely would know, this was not a recently-won victory. The actual exemption language had already been in this particular bill for some time now, due to the efforts of several organizations and many individuals; so, sadly, no real victory should have been claimed. To trot out an old victory and proclaim it as one’s own would be like George Bush claiming credit for winning World War II.
Regardless, despite this “non-recent” improvement in the statutory bill language, the NHF still opposes passage of S.510. The Federal legislative process is like making sausage, as everyone knows, that is, the bill at issue gets stuffed with everyone’s favorite pork. That does not make the bill any better – that’s just political logrolling. And we should not stand for it.
The Latest on S.3002
A second issue is that while the NHF and other health-freedom groups and their memberships lobbied and were somewhat successful in getting Senator McCain to back off of his so-called Dietary Supplement Safety Act (S.3002), the latest is that Senator Arlen Spector (D-PA) is expected to offer a “Son of McCain” bill amendment to S.510. The health-freedom Senators and their staffs are working on how to prevent this, but Harry Reid and Dick Durbin are the two in charge of the Senate schedule. To be fair and balanced, the exact language of a Spector amendment has not been released to members or their staff, preventing us from knowing whether it will attempt to do the same as the original McCain bill proposed, which was to repeal the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), or something else of lesser harm. The sausage is still in the making.
Take Action Now
Despite the NHF’s, and other health-freedom groups’, successful lobbying efforts and grassroots letter writing campaign to protect the intent and letter of the DSHEA law, the so-called Food Safety Act (S.510) is still a threat to our health and health freedoms. To block the FDA from its goal of harmonizing U.S. food law to international food standards, via use of the Codex mechanisms, the NHF still opposes the intent and purposes of S.510. The bill fundamentally only addresses conventional foods, and not supplements; but it is still a bill that will adversely affect all of our health, unnecessarily raise food costs, put chains upon domestic food producers, and increase yet again our costly, parasitic Federal bureaucracy. It must be stopped.
Take action now by writing your Senators stating your firm opposition to S.510. The time for registering your opinion is short, but continued action is necessary for us to be successful. Go to www.thenhf.com/word_doc/s510_sample_letter.doc for a sample letter to send to your Senator to register your opposition.
Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Dick Durbin, and Henry Waxman have so far been successful in their quest for a complete government takeover of health care, despite the opposition of the vast majority of Americans, who are not being listened to. In the current political and legislative atmosphere, every crack in the door for the anti-supplement, pro-Federal control and anti-individual responsibility Congressional leadership is being used to spend, tax, and hire an ever-growing mob of Federal bureaucrats.
Sample Letter to Your Senators - Click Here
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Contact Information to E-mail Senators:
The Senate main number is (202) 224-3121
As the oldest and best-respected health-freedom group on Capitol Hill, the NHF continues to be the credible source of objective assessment of, and proactive actions on, Congressional legislation and FDA matters that have material impact upon our freedom-of-health choices and access to dietary supplements and nutritional foods.
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National Health Federation: Established in 1955, the National Health Federation is a consumer-education, health-freedom organization working to protect individuals' rights to choose to consume healthy food, take supplements and use alternative therapies without unnecessary government restrictions. The NHF is the only such organization with recognized observer-delegate status at Codex meetings. www.thenhf.com
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