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A Blind Faith Based Approach to Food Safety

Senator Coburn is wrong.  The Senate needs to pass meaningful food safety legislation immediately, not keep it on the backburner through the lame duck session so that it can start from scratch again next term.  He has raised legitimate questions of cost, but even his estimated costs of implementing S. 510 (Food Safety Modernization Act) pale in comparison to the cost of not passing the legislation.  S. 510 won’t eradicate food contamination; but the effects of increased authority, resources, and tools for FDA, if implemented now, will cause an immediate and significant reduction in the expenditure of both public and private funds related to the annual costs of foodborne disease. 

 

Last week, Senator Coburn introduced his own version of new food safety legislation, called the “Ensuring Greater Food Safety Act of 2010.”  The bill is one page long, and it’s purpose is basically to demand that the FDA and USDA get along, communicate, and improve food safety. 

 

This is a brilliant plan.  Why has nobody thought of it before?  While we’re at it, why don’t we just tell Congress to fix the deficit, Kim Jong Il to not become a nuclear power, and BP to be a better environmental citizen?  Call it the blind faith based approach.  

 

Here is Coburn’s plan, from his website:

 

Require FDA and USDA to immediately establish a comprehensive plan to share information and clarify existing efforts related to products and facilities in which the agencies have overlapping, joint, or similar authority;

 

Require FDA and USDA to issue a joint report to Congress summarizing the effectiveness of the new arrangement;

 

Task the Government Accountability Office with auditing the arrangement.

 

Done.  No more.  No additional resources; apparently no increased cost; and subservient to the vocal locavore movement who sees S. 510 as the biggest infringmenet on personal liberties . . .

© Food Safety News
  • Mr. Falkenstein, there is little chance that the Senate will “pass meaningful food safety legislation immediately” because the Senate HELP Committee did NOT choose to advance “meaningful food safety legislation.” The HELP Committee didn’t choose to hold full, meaningful hearings to determine what is actually needed. Instead, it advanced S 510 that does NOT do what do what its name professes to do (i.e., modernize the FDA) nor what its supporters claim it will do (e.g., give new “authorities” to the FDA and substantially reduce foodborne illness in the US).
    There is NOTHING in S 510 that holds the FDA food safety regulation accountable. The FDA’s abysmal performance since, at least, 2004 is the primary reason we are continuing to have clearly preventable outbreaks like the ones caused by Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms.
    Furthermore, the supporters of S 510 have shown no desire to see the lessons that are actually inherent in the 2010 salmonella enteritidis (SE) outbreaks of 2010. The recent House subcommittee hearings glossed over the clear failure of the FDA to actually implement its rule that is exactly the type mandated in S 510’s Sec. 103 Hazard Analysis and Risk-based Preventive Controls and Sec. 105 Standards for Produce Safety. Even worse, supporters of S 510, including the FDA, spoke glowingly of the FDA’s Final Shell Egg Rule when it is clearly an inadequate rule over 10 years out of date.
    The record is clear, that Dr. Coburn expressed his concerns about S 510 over many months and they were ignored. His bill addresses one of the critical missing elements of S 510. As perfectly shown in the Wright County/Hillandale portion of the SE egg outbreaks, the failure to address this inhibits effective regulation of the large egg producers. Furthermore, what the Dr. Coburn’s bill calls for is exactly one of the stated reasons that President Obama set up his Food Safety Working Group. Unfortunately, for those sickened by the SE contaminated eggs from Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms, the FSWG focused on new legislation rather than doing what was already well within its power to improve food safety.
    Instead of accepting Dr. Coburn’s proposals and urging more, you ridiculed him and a clearly need action plan.
    And then, in a parting double swipe and inaccurate characterization of reality, you described Dr. Coburn as “subservient to the vocal locavore movement who sees S. 510 as the biggest infringmenet (sic) on personal liberties…”
    Mr. Falkenstein, you are the one with the “blind faith based approach to food safety,” not Dr. Coburn. It’s obvious to me that you believe that a horribly flawed regulator that has not had appropriate consequences for incompetent actions and that is praised despite very poor work will magically improve when given lots of money, additional people and political cover to use its already extraordinary powers to impose industrial ag food safety on all food producers.

  • Coburn’s plan, from his website:
    Require FDA and USDA to immediately establish a comprehensive plan to share information and clarify existing efforts related to products and facilities in which the agencies have overlapping, joint, or similar authority;
     
    Require FDA and USDA to issue a joint report to Congress summarizing the effectiveness of the new arrangement;
     
    Task the Government Accountability Office with auditing the arrangement.
    Good,Add this as a admendment to S510 !

  • Doc Mudd

    Coburn is, indeed, “subservient to the vocal locavore movement” for whom Blind Faith (caps intentional) is the the be-all, end-all of their monotonous sales pitch.

  • Mr. Falkenstein, there is little chance that the Senate will “pass meaningful food safety legislation immediately” because the Senate HELP Committee did NOT choose to advance “meaningful food safety legislation.” The HELP Committee didn’t choose to hold full, meaningful hearings to determine what is actually needed. Instead, it advanced S 510 that does NOT do what do what its name professes to do (i.e., modernize the FDA) nor what its supporters claim it will do (e.g., give new “authorities” to the FDA and substantially reduce foodborne illness in the US).
    There is NOTHING in S 510 that holds the FDA food safety regulation accountable. The FDA’s abysmal performance since, at least, 2004 is the primary reason we are continuing to have clearly preventable outbreaks like the ones caused by Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms.
    Furthermore, the supporters of S 510 have shown no desire to see the lessons that are actually inherent in the 2010 salmonella enteritidis (SE) outbreaks of 2010. The recent House subcommittee hearings glossed over the clear failure of the FDA to actually implement its rule that is exactly the type mandated in S 510’s Sec. 103 Hazard Analysis and Risk-based Preventive Controls and Sec. 105 Standards for Produce Safety. Even worse, supporters of S 510, including the FDA, spoke glowingly of the FDA’s Final Shell Egg Rule when it is clearly an inadequate rule over 10 years out of date.
    The record is clear, that Dr. Coburn expressed his concerns about S 510 over many months and they were ignored. His bill addresses one of the critical missing elements of S 510. As perfectly shown in the Wright County/Hillandale portion of the SE egg outbreaks, the failure to address this inhibits effective regulation of the large egg producers. Furthermore, what the Dr. Coburn’s bill calls for is exactly one of the stated reasons that President Obama set up his Food Safety Working Group. Unfortunately, for those sickened by the SE contaminated eggs from Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms, the FSWG focused on new legislation rather than doing what was already well within its power to improve food safety.
    Instead of accepting Dr. Coburn’s proposals and urging more, you ridiculed him and a clearly need action plan.
    And then, in a parting double swipe and inaccurate characterization of reality, you described Dr. Coburn as “subservient to the vocal locavore movement who sees S. 510 as the biggest infringmenet (sic) on personal liberties…”
    Mr. Falkenstein, you are the one with the “blind faith based approach to food safety,” not Dr. Coburn. It’s obvious to me that you believe that a horribly flawed regulator that has not had appropriate consequences for incompetent actions and that is praised despite very poor work will magically improve when given lots of money, additional people and political cover to use its already extraordinary powers to impose industrial ag food safety on all food producers.

  • Dendrick

    The first comment is beyond tedious and repetitive.
    Painting the government as the boogeyman by way of blaming the police (FDA) for not stopping the criminals who commit and are responsible for the crimes is not only absurd but also immoral.

  • Dendrick

    The first comment is beyond tedious and repetitive.
    Painting the government as the boogeyman by way of blaming the police (FDA) for not stopping the criminals who commit and are responsible for the crimes is not only absurd but also immoral.

  • @ “Doc Mudd.” And what is your source for this knowledge that “Coburn is, indeed, ‘subservient to the vocal locavore movement'”? The same uncited source as Drew Falkenstein? LOL. How ludicrous! A Senator from a state where almost all of the agriculture is industrial ag is “subservient to the vocal locavore movement.” Yeah, just like Harkin and Dingell are.
    @Dendrick. Of course, much of the truth is “tedious and repetitive.”
    I did NOT “paint the government as the boogeyman” but I surely do blame the FDA for not stopping Wright County Egg long ago.
    All the FDA had to do was perform the inspections that obviously should have been made of a scofflaw like DeCoster. As pointed out by Pete Kennedy, Esq., of Farm to Consumer Legal Defense fund (http://www.farmtoconsumer.org/s510-revised-fda-coming-kennedy.htm), had the FDA made TIMELY inspections it would have had all the evidence needed to stop the flow of eggs from Wright Country Egg into the marketplace BEFORE this outbreak began.
    Plus, ff the FDA has no responsibility in this, Dendrick, why do we need more regulations? Regulations only work if they are enforced. In my 35 years career in 2 highly regulated industries (insurance & securities) I watched the public be injured again and again because regulators weren’t doing their jobs. And I watched consumers benefit again and again when regulators did do their jobs.
    People are needlessly sickened and law abiding businesses are needlessly injured financially year after year because the FDA is NOT fulfilling its responsibility to the American people. The FDA’s meeting its statutory duty is what Dr. Coburn is demanding.

  • Michael Bulger

    Anyone hear of a bill that would REQUIRE the FDA to inspect food facilities, and the Wright County Eggs of the nation, in a more timely manner?
    It’d sure be swell if it also provided the FDA with more resources, too..
    Anyone?
    Because then regulators might be able to do their jobs.

  • @ “Doc Mudd.” And what is your source for this knowledge that “Coburn is, indeed, ‘subservient to the vocal locavore movement'”? The same uncited source as Drew Falkenstein? LOL. How ludicrous! A Senator from a state where almost all of the agriculture is industrial ag is “subservient to the vocal locavore movement.” Yeah, just like Harkin and Dingell are.
    @Dendrick. Of course, much of the truth is “tedious and repetitive.”
    I did NOT “paint the government as the boogeyman” but I surely do blame the FDA for not stopping Wright County Egg long ago.
    All the FDA had to do was perform the inspections that obviously should have been made of a scofflaw like DeCoster. As pointed out by Pete Kennedy, Esq., of Farm to Consumer Legal Defense fund (http://www.farmtoconsumer.org/s510-revised-fda-coming-kennedy.htm), had the FDA made TIMELY inspections it would have had all the evidence needed to stop the flow of eggs from Wright Country Egg into the marketplace BEFORE this outbreak began.
    Plus, ff the FDA has no responsibility in this, Dendrick, why do we need more regulations? Regulations only work if they are enforced. In my 35 years career in 2 highly regulated industries (insurance & securities) I watched the public be injured again and again because regulators weren’t doing their jobs. And I watched consumers benefit again and again when regulators did do their jobs.
    People are needlessly sickened and law abiding businesses are needlessly injured financially year after year because the FDA is NOT fulfilling its responsibility to the American people. The FDA’s meeting its statutory duty is what Dr. Coburn is demanding.