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Reid Promises E. coli Survivor Action on S. 510

Linda Rivera, a Reno, Nevada woman who contracted E. coli from cookie dough and has been battling for her life for the past fifteen months, has been promised the Senate will move on the pending food safety bill, S. 510–the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. 

A constituent of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Rivera has also become a key advocate for a food safety bill that has been languishing in the Senate for months. Her story has been featured on CNNFood
Safety News
, and in the Washington
Post
.

In a letter to the Rivera family, Reid promised in September 2009 that the Senate would take up the bill last fall. The legislation was unanimously approved by committee in mid-November, but came to a halt behind health care reform.

Reid called the Rivera family again this week to promise a vote on the pending food safety bill before the August recess.  As reported by Food Safety News, the bill would give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the ability to enact mandatory recalls on products containing harmful pathogens.

This video clip shows Richard Rivera, Linda’s husband, giving his take on the pending legislation.  In his words, if lawmakers, “could imagine their wife or their mother in bed for the last fifteen months fighting for her life,” maybe they would finally act on the legislation that will save many lives.

© Food Safety News
  • hhamil

    Linda Rivera got sick from cookie dough from a major manufacturer that has been using HACCP plans for years. I have never read anything saying that the manufacturer of the cookie dough delayed ordering the recall.
    So, I ask a supporter of S 510 to point out specifically to me, how her case would have been impacted positively had S 510 been fully in force before the outbreak which sicken her occurred?
    Sadly, it appears to me that Mr. & Mrs. Rivera have been misled by supporters of S 510 as to its effectiveness.
    Over 50 years ago, a childhood friend of mine died after a week or so a terrible pain from burns caused when her bathrobe caught on fire and she ran. I remember clearly praying every night for to be healed quickly and her pain to stop. As one who has had a borderline 3rd degree burn, I know first hand the terrible pain.
    Within a year, Congress passed a law requiring that all bathrobes, pajamas, etc. be of non-flammable fabric or have had an effective flame retardant. We thanked God for Congress’s decisive action.
    A chemical tris was the solution. It became ubiquitous.
    And then people started getting sick. Finally, maybe 10 years later, tris was banned but it was too late for the people sickened and killed by the solution. As I recall, the estimates were that many more were injured by the solution than the problem.
    That will be the same case here if an S 510/HR 2749 hybrid is passed. And it will be because of the know-it-all attitude of the supporters of the S 510/HR 2749 industrial-size-only food safety legislation who are unwilling to write a good food safety bill lest they lose the support of industrial agriculture and its processors.

  • Harry Hamil

    Linda Rivera got sick from cookie dough from a major manufacturer that has been using HACCP plans for years. I have never read anything saying that the manufacturer of the cookie dough delayed ordering the recall.
    So, I ask a supporter of S 510 to point out specifically to me, how her case would have been impacted positively had S 510 been fully in force before the outbreak which sicken her occurred?
    Sadly, it appears to me that Mr. & Mrs. Rivera have been misled by supporters of S 510 as to its effectiveness.
    Over 50 years ago, a childhood friend of mine died after a week or so a terrible pain from burns caused when her bathrobe caught on fire and she ran. I remember clearly praying every night for to be healed quickly and her pain to stop. As one who has had a borderline 3rd degree burn, I know first hand the terrible pain.
    Within a year, Congress passed a law requiring that all bathrobes, pajamas, etc. be of non-flammable fabric or have had an effective flame retardant. We thanked God for Congress’s decisive action.
    A chemical tris was the solution. It became ubiquitous.
    And then people started getting sick. Finally, maybe 10 years later, tris was banned but it was too late for the people sickened and killed by the solution. As I recall, the estimates were that many more were injured by the solution than the problem.
    That will be the same case here if an S 510/HR 2749 hybrid is passed. And it will be because of the know-it-all attitude of the supporters of the S 510/HR 2749 industrial-size-only food safety legislation who are unwilling to write a good food safety bill lest they lose the support of industrial agriculture and its processors.

  • Doc Mudd

    Comparing S.510 (and its sensible provisions for effective HACCP, testing and traceability) to a toxic flame retardent is, well, a little incoherent. And, a little desperate.
    The source of the E. coli in the cookie dough that sickened Linda Rivera, the failure to prevent the bacterial contamination and subsequent failure to identify it in timely fashion, along with the failure to identify and act upon the risk of food borne illness prior to selling the product to consumers — those are the issues of importance that S.510 starts us on the road to addressing and correcting.
    The obsolete and demonstrably failed concept of food producers (of any size or scale) being encouraged to operate any damned way they please – so long as they don’t poison too many people, or only a few at a time – that archaic concept is long past due for a major overhaul.
    Look in the direction of the loudest and most absurd objections to locate knowing offenders! They lobby tirelessly to continue as they are, doing nothing, changing nothing. To preserve their precious profits, they will argue.
    I would argue that we preserve the health and welfare of consumers and have the profiteers in the shadowy fringes of our food system lose their anonymity. Let all of them, large and small, become traceable and accountable in spite of their selfish objections.
    Trust, but verify. That’s good business and that’s what S.510 does. And that’s the smart way for everyone to “know their farmer”!

  • hhamil

    Not surprisingly, the person or entity behind the screen name “Doc Mudd” chooses to misrepresent or ignore everything in my earlier comment. Her/his/its statements about S 510, misdirection and demonizing are a smokescreen to obscure the fact that S 510 would have made ZERO difference because Nestle was already doing everything S 510 requires that might have stopped the contamination.
    As for traceability and accountability, all of us in the local, healthy food movement knows that when we screw up (and we do), we have no place to hide because we are transparent in what we do. Everything I grow is sold to someone who knows exactly where it came from. There is no long, industrial supply chain to hide within.
    Finally, of course, I didn’t compare S 510 to a toxic flame retardant. Rather, I pointed out that the push for a legislated solution without a full discussion of the long term implications in both cases is similar. And I stand by my analogy.
    There are clear, long term, seriously negative implications of the industrial-size-only regulatory approach of S 510/HR 2749. Very few small growers, packers, processors or distributors will be able to make a full-time living; so the movement of back to farming will wither and die just when we desperately need them. The average age of a farmer in the US is about 57. Also, local, healthy food (not produced in home or community gardens) will be largely restricted to rich folks. The poor, the working poor, even the lower middle class will be unable to afford the prices that small producers will be forced to charge to stay in business. The thriving local farmers tailgate markets I have spent over 15 years building in my area will shrivel to a shadow of their current size much less meet the growing demand.
    Just as is occurring in the financial arena, S 510/HR 2749 will assure the continued domination of food by big corporations and the increasing consolidation in the American food system. And, in this case, it will primarily be foreign owned companies (like JBS already does in the meat production) which control our food security.

  • Doc Mudd

    If demand for boutique farm market vittles exists, and if that demand truly is growing, then attention to food safety will only reassure eager consumers and speed the growth of that market.
    Intelligent producers always identify means to supply an existing demand – even as they routinely comply with fundamental safety protocols. Opportunities for consciencious beginning ‘small farmers’ will only be enhanced as market demand grows.
    As for any minimal cost of fundamental safety practices being passed on to the consumer, most farm market shoppers are of above average means and already spend freely for the provenance of ‘fresh’, ‘homegrown’, ‘local’, ‘organic’ and so forth. With certifiable oversight, through a program like S.510, the verifiable assurance of ‘safe and responsible’ will be additional value added for discerning purchasers. Especially so for new purchasers who have avoided feeding their families from tailgate concessions in the past out of sensible concerns over the safety of those foods and the accountabiliy of those vendors.

  • Harry Hamil

    Not surprisingly, the person or entity behind the screen name “Doc Mudd” chooses to misrepresent or ignore everything in my earlier comment. Her/his/its statements about S 510, misdirection and demonizing are a smokescreen to obscure the fact that S 510 would have made ZERO difference because Nestle was already doing everything S 510 requires that might have stopped the contamination.
    As for traceability and accountability, all of us in the local, healthy food movement knows that when we screw up (and we do), we have no place to hide because we are transparent in what we do. Everything I grow is sold to someone who knows exactly where it came from. There is no long, industrial supply chain to hide within.
    Finally, of course, I didn’t compare S 510 to a toxic flame retardant. Rather, I pointed out that the push for a legislated solution without a full discussion of the long term implications in both cases is similar. And I stand by my analogy.
    There are clear, long term, seriously negative implications of the industrial-size-only regulatory approach of S 510/HR 2749. Very few small growers, packers, processors or distributors will be able to make a full-time living; so the movement of back to farming will wither and die just when we desperately need them. The average age of a farmer in the US is about 57. Also, local, healthy food (not produced in home or community gardens) will be largely restricted to rich folks. The poor, the working poor, even the lower middle class will be unable to afford the prices that small producers will be forced to charge to stay in business. The thriving local farmers tailgate markets I have spent over 15 years building in my area will shrivel to a shadow of their current size much less meet the growing demand.
    Just as is occurring in the financial arena, S 510/HR 2749 will assure the continued domination of food by big corporations and the increasing consolidation in the American food system. And, in this case, it will primarily be foreign owned companies (like JBS already does in the meat production) which control our food security.

  • JM

    It is illogical to think that this proposed legislation would have had one iota of impact in this particular case. A science based risk managment analysis would not have anticipated E. Coli being found in cookie dough. Preventative measures would not have been targeted for his contaminant prior to this discovery.
    With that said, there is a need for regulation in this area. This may be a good start. The bill is only 266 pages. There is a good chance most in Congress will actually read this bill before voting.

  • Charles

    The problem with these bills are that they create barriers to entry for small producers. Certain production methods must be used which increase the cost for producers. Large producers are able to meet these requirments much easier than small producers. This leads to the cartelization of our food producers. Mass producers (created by these barriers) are the ones cause most of these sicknesses, not small producers. Read Joel Salatin’s “Everything I want to do is Illegal”.