Mixed Reaction from United Fresh as House Passes Food Safety Bill

By a vote of 215 to 144 on Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed the Food Safety Modernization Act, enacting large-scale changes to the nation’s food safety system. United Fresh Produce Association Senior Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther issued the following statement on the legislation, which will now head to President Barack Obama’s desk for signature:

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“For the past four years, the United Fresh Produce Association has been among the most vocal supporters of comprehensive modernization of the food safety system in the United States, working with members of Congress and the Bush and Obama Administrations, and testifying before House and Senate committees more than 10 times. The legislation passed today on Capitol Hill ensures 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, will be integrated into the food safety framework moving forward.

“The good in this bill, however, is still accompanied by the bad, and the Food Safety Modernization Act still contains an amendment from Senators Jon Tester of Montana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina that threatens the health and well-being of a nation of consumers by exempting some producers and processors based only on the size of their business, their geographic location, or to whom they sell their products. This inclusion of exemptions based on non-scientific qualifications will limit the ability of the Food and Drug Administration 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 remain fearful that this profound error will come back to haunt Congress, public health agencies, and even those who thought they would benefit from food safety exemptions, but more importantly, we are fearful of what may slip through the food safety loopholes created by the Tester/Hagan Amendment and adversely affect consumers in the United States.

“United Fresh is confident that the Food Safety Modernization Act will do much good; it is, after all, the first overhaul of the food safety system in seven decades. however, the House and the Senate have both missed an opportunity to engage with one another to remedy the loopholes created by the Tester/Hagan Amendment.

“Today is a day of mixed feelings for our members who have worked long and hard to pass food safety reforms, as this remains a job that is very much unfinished. Moving forward, as we always do, United Fresh will continue to work with our allies in the new Congress, voicing our strong support for uniform, risk-based food safety standards to which all can be held accountable, regardless of size.”
 

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Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

“United Fresh-Trade association representing the interests of produce companies and their partners.”

They don’t like competition, so push to legislate the small grower out of business. Typical of what trade groups and corporations have become.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

What people don’t realize who have not read the bill is that this gives the Secretary of Agriculture sufficient and broad authority to dictate how farmers who grow produce that can be eaten raw must farm (including production methods, soil amendments, etc.), based on “science.” First of all, who’s science? Second, do any farmers really want the Federal government to have that power? Do consumers really want the Federal government to have that power? To me, this bill is the equivalent of farm facism. Of course, big ag producers don’t want the small farm exemption because they are already concerned about the entire local food movement. But the exemption as written is pathetic. So, Mr. Guenther, with your fake “fears” and fear-mongering, you are trying to push real farmers out of business, which is what the Act has been about from the beginning. If consumers want real food safety, they should stop buying the crap that members of Mr. Guenther’s lobby sell and start buying from farmers they can trust.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

It’s good the Tester amendment stayed in the bill, exempting smaller producers from regulations meant for factory farms. Guenther is just complaining because he wishes the government would knock out his competition for him. I’m glad they didn’t! Where’s the rebuttal supporting the Tester version of the bill, huh AVG?

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

“Moving forward, as we always do, United Fresh will continue to work with our allies in the new Congress, voicing our strong support for uniform, risk-based food safety standards to which all can be held accountable, regardless of size.”
United Fresh are “allies” with the govt. This does not bode well for farmers. This capitalist sees UF as trying to take over farming in the US. The govts attempt at helping farmers has created more welfare farmers than anything. Just read the trade mags and newspapers. The govt is handing out money left and right to farmers to help them with this and that. I thought farmers were an independant bunch capable of taking care of themselves. Between all the welfare farmers are receiving today and this new law the big guys will now become even more beholden to govt.
I still want someone to show me where small farms have contaminated the food supply. Whenever you hear of contaminated food it is usually imported or processed. Maybe this is because of all the migrant labor these big companies are using. Migrants that come from countries where indoor plumbing is a luxury. I saw signs available from an extension office notifying field workers that it is NOT ok to take a dump in the field. Just because you big farmers aren’t able to take care of your own operation doesn’t mean you have to trash ours and make us beholden to the govt. Thank you Sen Tester.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

“United Fresh-Trade association representing the interests of produce companies and their partners.”

They don’t like competition, so push to legislate the small grower out of business. Typical of what trade groups and corporations have become.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

What people don’t realize who have not read the bill is that this gives the Secretary of Agriculture sufficient and broad authority to dictate how farmers who grow produce that can be eaten raw must farm (including production methods, soil amendments, etc.), based on “science.” First of all, who’s science? Second, do any farmers really want the Federal government to have that power? Do consumers really want the Federal government to have that power? To me, this bill is the equivalent of farm facism. Of course, big ag producers don’t want the small farm exemption because they are already concerned about the entire local food movement. But the exemption as written is pathetic. So, Mr. Guenther, with your fake “fears” and fear-mongering, you are trying to push real farmers out of business, which is what the Act has been about from the beginning. If consumers want real food safety, they should stop buying the crap that members of Mr. Guenther’s lobby sell and start buying from farmers they can trust.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

It’s good the Tester amendment stayed in the bill, exempting smaller producers from regulations meant for factory farms. Guenther is just complaining because he wishes the government would knock out his competition for him. I’m glad they didn’t! Where’s the rebuttal supporting the Tester version of the bill, huh AVG?

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

“Moving forward, as we always do, United Fresh will continue to work with our allies in the new Congress, voicing our strong support for uniform, risk-based food safety standards to which all can be held accountable, regardless of size.”
United Fresh are “allies” with the govt. This does not bode well for farmers. This capitalist sees UF as trying to take over farming in the US. The govts attempt at helping farmers has created more welfare farmers than anything. Just read the trade mags and newspapers. The govt is handing out money left and right to farmers to help them with this and that. I thought farmers were an independant bunch capable of taking care of themselves. Between all the welfare farmers are receiving today and this new law the big guys will now become even more beholden to govt.
I still want someone to show me where small farms have contaminated the food supply. Whenever you hear of contaminated food it is usually imported or processed. Maybe this is because of all the migrant labor these big companies are using. Migrants that come from countries where indoor plumbing is a luxury. I saw signs available from an extension office notifying field workers that it is NOT ok to take a dump in the field. Just because you big farmers aren’t able to take care of your own operation doesn’t mean you have to trash ours and make us beholden to the govt. Thank you Sen Tester.