House Passes Food Safety Legislation

On Wednesday, the House approved a $1.1 trillion continuing resolution funding the government through Sept. 30. The bill, which passed 212-206, freezes 2011 discretionary appropriations at the current level, according to an article in The Hill. Also part of the bill is food-safety legislation – that includes the Tester amendment – which was inserted into the Senate bill. The Tester amendment provides exemptions for small growers.

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The House will now send the $1.4 billion food safety bill to the Senate as part of the giant year-end budget bill.

For more information about the Senate bill,.

What follows are comments from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Robert Guenther, senior vice president of United Fresh Produce Association about the passage of H.R. 3082:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the following statement Wednesday evening, following the passage of the bill:

“Parents deserve to have confidence that the food they are feeding their children is safe (FDA Food Safety). Yet recent outbreaks of foodborne illness from common foods – from spinach and tomatoes, to peanut butter and cookie dough – have too many people feeling uncertain and scared.

“The landmark FDA Food Safety Modernization Act will fundamentally alter the way we protect public health and the safety in our food supply, trying to prevent contamination before it happens. It also improves our capability to detect and respond to foodborne illness, and, for the first time, requires importers of food to the U.S. to verify the food meets U.S. FDA Food Safety standards. "With our nation’s children first in mind, Congress has passed a major overhaul of American Food Safety that will protect lives and stop illness.”

Source: Office of the Speaker of the House

United Fresh Senior Vice President Robert Guenther provided the following statement on the House passage of the Senate food safety bill as part of the Continuing Resolution:

“United Fresh has strongly supported modernization of our food safety laws for the past four years, working with Members of Congress and the Administration, and testifying before House or Senate committees more than 10 times. There is no doubt the food safety bill passed as part of the Continuing Resolution contains a number of important provisions that we have long supported, including implementation of preventive controls for production and processing of specific fruits and vegetables when shown necessary by a risk-based, scientific analysis by FDA.

Yet, the Tester amendment inserted into the Senate bill, and now passed by the House, weakens public health protection by exempting some producers and processors based only on the size of their business, their geographic location, or to whom they sell their products. The statutory enactment of non science-based exemptions would limit FDA’s ability to assure consumers that all foods they purchase, whether at grocery stores, restaurants, farm markets, or elsewhere, have met the same food safety standards. We fear that this profound error will come back to haunt the Congress, public health agencies, consumers and even those who thought they would benefit from food safety exemptions. Food safety must be a universal commitment, shared by all who would grow, process and sell foods.

While the food safety bill will do much good, it is highly regrettable that the House leadership failed to exercise its responsibility to engage with the Senate in a conference to fix these provisions. Our industry and a large number of House members have urged repeatedly over the past week that a conference could be completed within the remaining days of this session. When it became apparent that the House would need to pass its own bill due to the constitutional problems with the Senate bill, this afforded the direct opportunity to provide due diligence to correct this mistake, and send a better bill back to the Senate, which must again pass the bill in any case.

For all of us who have worked long and hard to pass food safety reform, this is a bittersweet moment, with a job only partially done. As we look ahead, we will continue to voice our strong support for uniform, risk-based food safety standards, whether in the remaining days of this Congress, or in the new Congress convening in January.
 

Source: United Fresh news release

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Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

Large producers are ticked because the bill excluded small growers, who’s gonig to pay for these inspections? And yet another step closer to communism and elminating the small family farm. Thanks United Fresh for protecting your huge clients. I can assure you that you will never get a penny from me!

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

Way to go, protect the foreign grower by shutting down the small family american farmer. Did any of you geniuses ever think where food borne illnesses come from? Genius? They come from non united states growers, yet the laws are so relaxed they get away with it, and will continue to get away with it. If you don’t believe me go to houston or dallas or san antone and look at the dripping crap coming in from out of the country. Wake up folks.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

Comment to United Fresh: If you really object to the TESTER Amendment which provides protection to the small local farmer, why did you not offer congress to directly fund the costs that would be applicable to each of the small farmers so that they could stay in business? Another point – all of the outbreaks have been from larger farms marketing nationally – not the small local farmer. How about exposing all those small farmers who have caused the problem that drove this bill. If a small local farmer does not produce a product that is wholesome, the customer stops buying and the farmer is out of business. If a national farm has a poor product, it is just moved to another market for sale – not an option for the small, local farmer! Being small, there is NO WAY for us to recover the cost of the now absurd government regulations in the products we sell – no enough volume to spread the cost over. Your position is a direct play to get rid of competition.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

The best form of food safety is transparency between the final consumer and the producer, which can be achieved between local producers who direct market their products to final consumers.

Support your local farmers everyone.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

First, this food security bill never should have seen the light of day in the halls of govt. Farmers are able to police themselves as it is their livlihood that is at stake. All small farmers know that it only takes one time of having contaminated produce to destroy your family business. This is not the case with the big corporate farms. It is also these large farms, importers, and processors that are the ones with the contamination problems. But it will not put them out of business as they are huge corporations with the ability to adjust, spend a little money and continue.
I wonder when the last time the heads of these huge farms actually worked in the field or drove a tractor? I think they have traded in their farm clothes for a suit and tie and a blackberry. Sad.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

Hand over even more power to evil corporations like Monsanto?
Allow them to control us, to enslave us, to poison us?
Thomas Jefferson, and a thousand other American heroes, would never countenance this crap.
Why should we?

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

First, let’s get it straight, Monsanto and the other lagre ag corporations are not “evil”. Billions of people world wide are living today because of the advances in technology provided by these corporations. America is able to provide the huge amount of food that it does because of them.
Second, as I said earlier this bill (soon to become law) never should have seen the light of day. United Fresh should have been using their lobbying efforts to assure the politicians on the hill that American farmers of ALL sizes are able to police themselves and have done an admirable job of catching point sources of contamination. Instead UF decided they wanted govt to intrude where it doesn’t belong and when a small farmer like myself looks at this mess I wonder about UFs motives. I suspect maybe they have been feeling the effects of the buy local movement on their bottom line and this was one way for them to recapture some of that profit. Unfortunately for them the Tester amendment blocked that from happening and now they are stuck having to spend large amounts of money and time to reassure Americans that their produce is safe. Kind of shot yourself in the foot didn’t you. I am sure we small farmers sis not come out of this unharmed and we will find out when this monstrosity of a bill is deciphered. Thanks UF for helping this govt take another step towards socialism by allowinf them even more control over the food supply.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

Large producers are ticked because the bill excluded small growers, who’s gonig to pay for these inspections? And yet another step closer to communism and elminating the small family farm. Thanks United Fresh for protecting your huge clients. I can assure you that you will never get a penny from me!

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

Way to go, protect the foreign grower by shutting down the small family american farmer. Did any of you geniuses ever think where food borne illnesses come from? Genius? They come from non united states growers, yet the laws are so relaxed they get away with it, and will continue to get away with it. If you don’t believe me go to houston or dallas or san antone and look at the dripping crap coming in from out of the country. Wake up folks.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

Comment to United Fresh: If you really object to the TESTER Amendment which provides protection to the small local farmer, why did you not offer congress to directly fund the costs that would be applicable to each of the small farmers so that they could stay in business? Another point – all of the outbreaks have been from larger farms marketing nationally – not the small local farmer. How about exposing all those small farmers who have caused the problem that drove this bill. If a small local farmer does not produce a product that is wholesome, the customer stops buying and the farmer is out of business. If a national farm has a poor product, it is just moved to another market for sale – not an option for the small, local farmer! Being small, there is NO WAY for us to recover the cost of the now absurd government regulations in the products we sell – no enough volume to spread the cost over. Your position is a direct play to get rid of competition.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

The best form of food safety is transparency between the final consumer and the producer, which can be achieved between local producers who direct market their products to final consumers.

Support your local farmers everyone.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

First, this food security bill never should have seen the light of day in the halls of govt. Farmers are able to police themselves as it is their livlihood that is at stake. All small farmers know that it only takes one time of having contaminated produce to destroy your family business. This is not the case with the big corporate farms. It is also these large farms, importers, and processors that are the ones with the contamination problems. But it will not put them out of business as they are huge corporations with the ability to adjust, spend a little money and continue.
I wonder when the last time the heads of these huge farms actually worked in the field or drove a tractor? I think they have traded in their farm clothes for a suit and tie and a blackberry. Sad.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

Hand over even more power to evil corporations like Monsanto?
Allow them to control us, to enslave us, to poison us?
Thomas Jefferson, and a thousand other American heroes, would never countenance this crap.
Why should we?

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

First, let’s get it straight, Monsanto and the other lagre ag corporations are not “evil”. Billions of people world wide are living today because of the advances in technology provided by these corporations. America is able to provide the huge amount of food that it does because of them.
Second, as I said earlier this bill (soon to become law) never should have seen the light of day. United Fresh should have been using their lobbying efforts to assure the politicians on the hill that American farmers of ALL sizes are able to police themselves and have done an admirable job of catching point sources of contamination. Instead UF decided they wanted govt to intrude where it doesn’t belong and when a small farmer like myself looks at this mess I wonder about UFs motives. I suspect maybe they have been feeling the effects of the buy local movement on their bottom line and this was one way for them to recapture some of that profit. Unfortunately for them the Tester amendment blocked that from happening and now they are stuck having to spend large amounts of money and time to reassure Americans that their produce is safe. Kind of shot yourself in the foot didn’t you. I am sure we small farmers sis not come out of this unharmed and we will find out when this monstrosity of a bill is deciphered. Thanks UF for helping this govt take another step towards socialism by allowinf them even more control over the food supply.