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S. 510 Opinion: No Free Passes

I’ve been worrying over some of the provisions of this bill, especially since some of my friends in small production agriculture are so dead set against it.  They believe that the food safety requirements are an onerous encroachment on our freedom to produce, purchase and eat anything we want.

“It will kill back yard gardens,” they say.  ”It will make food production so expensive, the small guy will be put out of business,” is another complaint.  ”It’s just a ploy by big ag and big food to kill off the little guys.”

No, nothing in the bill even comes close to saying that.

Or this one: “My mother cooked for our family for years and sold home-made jams at the church.  No one ever got sick.”

I don’t think so.  Your mother was either incredibly lucky or you have a memory problem.  Sorry.

Or this one: “It’s only the big guys that make those mistakes that sicken thousands.  There has never been an instance of a small producer poisoning customers.”

Stuff and nonsense. 

 

After the recent recalls and refusals to recall–all for foods made by boutique or artisanal food processors, I looked at cases of foodborne illnesses over the last decade.  Bravo Cheese, the Costco supplier that produced a E. coli-tainted product that sickened at least 38 people in the Southwest and just pulled all their cheeses because of E. coli and Listeria, immediately came to mind.

And then there is Estrella Family Creamery, the Washington state-based artisan cheese maker that’s the latest darling of the ‘free my food’ crowd.  The owner actually refused an FDA request to recall its cheeses after its facility and products were found to be contaminated with Listeria, a potentially fatal pathogen for the elderly, children, pregnant women and unborn babies. 

I hope her pockets are as big as her cojones because, sooner-or-later, a lawyer is going to call on her and it will be hard to imagine any jury that won’t convict.

Even more, I hope her refusal starts a public outcry for the FDA and the USDA to have the legal right to force a recall, not just make a polite and toothless request.

Checking in with Bill Marler, the attorney who dominates the “sue the bastards” business and who probably has the most direct pipeline to the companies that get caught on the wrong end of food safety issues, I found these recent perps, all brought down by E. coli 0157:H7:

AFG / Supervalu E. coli Outbreak – Minnesota

Aunt Mid’s Lettuce E. coli outbreak – Michigan, Illinois, and Ontario

Bauer Meat E. coli Litigation – Georgia

BJ’s Wholesale Club E. coli Litigation – New York and New Jersey

California Romaine Lettuce E. coli Outbreak – Washington State

Camp Bournedale-South Shore Meats E. coli Outbreak – Rhode Island, Massachusetts

Captain’s Galley Seafood Restaurant E. coli Outbreak – North Carolina

Cargill E. coli Outbreak – Nationwide

Carneco / Sam’s Club E. coli Outbreak – Wisconsin & Michigan

ConAgra Ground Beef E. coli Outbreak – Nationwide

Dole Lettuce E. coli Outbreak – Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Oregon

Dole Spinach E. coli Outbreak – Nationwide

Dungeness Valley Creamery E. coli Outbreak – Washington state

Emmpak E. coli Outbreak – Wisconsin

Excel E. coli Outbreak – Georgia

Fairbank Farms E. coli Outbreak – New England

Flanders Provision Co. E. coli Outbreak – Colorado, Nationwide

Forest Ranch Fire Department Fundraiser E. coli Outbreak – California

Freshway Lettuce E. coli 0145 outbreak – Michigan, Ohio, New York, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania

Fresno Meat Market E. coli Outbreak – California

Gold Coast Produce E. coli Outbreak – California

Golden Corral E. coli Outbreak – Nebraska

Habaneros E. coli Outbreak – Missouri

Herb Depot & Autumn Olives Farm Raw Milk E. coli Outbreak – Missouri

Interstate Meat E. coli
O157:H7 Outbreak – Oregon, Washington & Idaho

Jack in the Box E. coli Outbreak – Western States

JBS Swift E. coli Outbreak – Nationwide

Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches E coli Outbreak – Colorado

Karl Ehmer Meats E. coli Outbreak – New Jersey

KFC E. coli Outbreak – Ohio

Kid’s Korner Daycare E. coli Outbreak – Missouri

Kindercare E. coli Outbreak – California

King Garden Restaurant E. coli Outbreak – Ohio

Lane County Fair E. coli Outbreak – Oregon

National Steak and Poultry E. coli O157:H7 outbreak – nationwide

Nebraska Beef E. coli Litigation – Minnesota

Nebraska Beef E. coli Outbreak, 2008 – Nationwide

Nestle Toll House Cookie Dough E. coli Outbreak – Nationwide

Odwalla E. coli Outbreak – Western States

Olive Garden E. coli Outbreak – Oregon

Organic Pastures E. coli Outbreak – California

Parsley E. coli Outbreak – Washington & Oregon

Peninsula Village E. coli Outbreak – Tennessee

PM Beef Holdings, Lunds & Byerly’s E. coli Outbreak – Minnesota

Robeson Schools E. coli Outbreak – North Carolina

Robinswood Pointe Senior Living Facility E. coli Outbreak – Washington

Rochester Meat Company E. coli Outbreak – Wisconsin, California

Rocky Mountain Natural Meats Bison E. coli outbreak 2010 – Colorado New York

S & S Foods – Goshen Boy Scout Camp E. coli Outbreak – North Carolina

Sizzler E. coli Outbreak – Wisconsin

Sodexho Spinach E. coli Outbreak – California

Spokane Produce E. coli Outbreak – Washington, Oregon, Idaho

Stop & Shop E. coli Case – New Hampshire

Taco John’s E. coli Outbreak – Iowa and Minnesota

Topps and Price Chopper E. coli Case – New York

Topps Meats E. coli Outbreak – Nationwide

Totino’s and Jeno’s Pizza E. coli Outbreak

United Food Group E. coli Outbreak – Western States

Valley Meats E. coli Outbreak – Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania

Washington County Fair E. coli Outbreak – New York

Wendy’s E. coli Outbreak – Oregon

Wendy’s E. coli Outbreak – Utah

 

As they say on late night TV, “But, wait!  There’s more!” but I won’t take you there.  I think a full page-and-a-half makes my point.  If you scan that list, you’ll find businesses of every size and product mix; meat, produce, dairy, restaurants, schools, senior living facilities, they are all there.  Selling food that carries pathogens causing potentially fatal food borne illnesses is an equal opportunity proposition.

The big boys have in-house labs and scientists and access to the latest technologies to help them produce safe foods and they still fail from time-to-time.  The little guys too often don’t have access to any of those safety backstops and while a problem at Karl Ehmer Meats might only effect a few thousand people in one state, while an error at Cargill can touch the lives of millions all across American, one grievously ill child or a dying grandparent is still one too many.

What scares me more than the Cargills of the world making production errors when they have access to the latest science and all the tools they need is the prospect of hundreds of boutique and artisanal producers with no idea that their output might be contaminated.  They lack the knowledge and the chances that someone from the government might actually cross their doorstep and ask a pointed question or two is almost non-existent.

 

And, yes, before I get bombarded with incredible rants that this artisan or that boutique produces only the most wholesome product and takes better care of their output than a Cargill ever could, I know the vast majority of those businesses are run by serious, conscientious people.

But as Mark Mina, DVM, an FSIS Deputy Administrator, Field Operations, once said during the early days of the huge Hudson Meat ground beef recall in 1997, “There are two types of business out there, those that have had a recall and those that will have a recall.”

So should anyone putting a food item into commerce get a free pass because he or she runs a business that’s “too small to afford” the proposed food safety requirements?  Absolutely not.  If the business is too small to afford the necessities, it is definitely too small to afford the kind of payment Cargill is making to Stephanie Smith.

Editor’s note: With Senate action on the Food Safety Bill approaching, we received more opinion pieces than we had space in our format, so these contributions from Chuck Jolley and Roland McReynolds are being posted in the news section.

© Food Safety News
  • http://www.gregdelapaix.com/ Delapaix

    This is not the problem. The problem is that hidden within this bill are new regulations which give the bureaucrats sweeping powers to strengthen the global corporations while weakening locals. It will also give the FDA more control over natural supplements, none of which have ever caused any problems. This is a fascist bill, do not believe social retards who think or pretend it’s what we need.

  • Nick

    The problem with this bill is that huge companies like Monsanto will continue to dictate what is on our dinner table. This isn’t about what is safe & what isn’t safe. Corn is in 80% of the foods at the grocery store, is that safe? Cows are given corn based grain to get fat off of, and we then consume it, is that safe? Milk is so overly processed that all the nutrients are taken out of it and the fat that is left over is toxic to our system. This countries cancer rate is at epic proportions, mainly because of what we put into our bodies. This bill is going to kill our chance at eating wholesome foods, and you sir should open your eyes!

  • BG Pelaire

    Are you kidding? There is a huge list of “natural supplements” that have caused problems over the years. I don’t have time to Google it, but really the FDA should have “control” over quality assurance and contamination problems for anything that is produced by a company that we put in our bodies. Thats not Fascism, that’s government doing what it should to protect citizens from every kind of producer – those who intentionally sell a bad product, those who sell a 99% good product but may slip up, or those who have no idea they are selling a contaminated product because they don’t have the facilities to check. Being a small producer or making “natural” products isn’t an excuse for not allowing your product to be checked for safety and recalled if necessary. A murderer using a small bullet or a “natural” poison shouldn’t be prosecuted?

  • Arguru

    Another thing this article does not really try to address is if small farms or community gardens are being put out of commission then what about diversity within the food supply. With the major corporations so focused on monocultures the chance of a pathogen wiping out large swaths of crops greatly increases. And while small producers are not enough to stave off the problems resultant of that they can help support those around them, themselves and the people they consistently rely on.

  • JQ

    Specify what these “hidden” regulations are. Cite your sources. And see if you can do so without resorting to name calling on the level of a seventh grader.
    Also: Natural supplements have never caused any problems? try again:
    http://www.consumerreports.org/health/natural-health/dietary-supplements/supplement-side-effects/index.htm

  • Doc Raymond

    The Food Safety and Inspection Service of the USDA can do more than make a “polite and toothless request” of a company to recall meat or poultry products. The reason they have never been refused is because they can withdraw inspection, and by law the plant cannot operate without an inspector’s presence.
    And as Mr. Jolley well knows, but perhaps some readers do not, even the very small meat and poultry processors do get daily, continuous inspection from FSIS. The only exceptions being those that do custom slaughter and processing or have very limited retail sales. S 501 is primarily all about
    FDA authorities and activities.

  • Hans Klein

    Chuck Jolley is an idiot. Obviously. Our Mothers are incredibly lucky we didn’t get sick from their jam? Does he even know how preserves are made?
    I like the guy above who called him a social retard. People who support legislation by making comments such as:”One grievously ill child or dying grandparent is too much,” might as well support keeping most everybody in padded rooms. My grandmother fell and broke her hip on some concrete steps. I propose senate legislation that will mandate foam barriers be erected everywhere there are stairs and railings. Give me a break.

  • http://ozarkhomesteader.wordpress.com/ Ozark Homesteader

    I think what you’re missing is that the bill only exempts small producers from unnecessary tracking. I, for one, know exactly who produced my Thanksgiving turkey, because I know them personally. I also read the relevant portions of the bill, and they are only exempt as long as they remain problem free. If the farm is linked to an outbreak, then the farm gets the regulation it needs.
    As for home canners, I know plenty of households from which I would not buy canned good, cakes, etc., including one of my neighbors. I’ve seen cats on their kitchen countertops and know they don’t have adequate sanitation. Those bad apples aren’t the mass of home canners and bakers, however. Most of us know how important sanitation is for good health.

  • Jffryds

    Or the food ‘smuggling’ language where small, back yard farmers are indeed in violation of federal crimes under this bill. Nice snarky journalism on your part; the banking fascist commend your efforts comrade.

  • Rosemary

    Senior living facilities and schools aren’t producing questionable products, they’re receiving them! Your list doesn’t differentiate between the victims and the perpetrators. Plus you’re forgetting local and state health departments are regulating small food facilities already. The desire to keep the feds concentrating on the large facilities is reasonable. Yes, they may have the means to run their own tests, but as we have seen, they also have the cajones to hide the evidence when they get it and keep testing until they come out negative. So your arguments make no sense. Sorry.

  • Rob

    With so many against this bill–people who are IN the food industry, saying that it’s a bad bill–you would think that a journalist would treat the issue with some respect.
    Instead, we get journalist like Chuck Jolley, who may as well be getting paid by Big Agri-business for writing pieces like this, trying to pass off his smug comments about how we’re getting our panties in a bunch for no reason.
    Good comments made by all, but what’s missing in the conversation is the fact that the FDA has a TERRIBLE record of regulating food!
    I’ve you’ve read anything by Kevin Trudeau and the horror stories in his books about people who head up the FDA–before you criticize Trudeau, you have to read his books–if you haven’t read his books . . . you need to read his books.
    Put it this way–If the FDA is such a great regulator and has only our best interests at heart, why are the pharmaceutical companies allowed to run commercials at all hours of the day for their fraudulent products?
    Do you know how many drug recalls there have been–and how many deaths there have been as a result? It’s a DISGRACE.

  • Ivan Hennessy

    Ok, folks, deep calming breaths.
    There will always be food borne illness. It is not possible to eliminate that risk. That is just as true for home operations as it is for giant factories. Legislating with the goal of eliminating risk is a terrible idea.
    However, expecting the market, or interpersonal relationships, to protect you and your family from micro-organisms is stupid.
    Here’s your smuggled food regulation:
    SEC. 310. SMUGGLED FOOD.
    (a) In General- Not later than 180 days after the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Commissioner of Customs and Border Patrol, and the Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, develop and implement a strategy to better identify smuggled food and prevent entry of such food into the United States. CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
    (b) Notification to Homeland Security- Not later than 10 days after the Secretary identifies a smuggled food that the Secretary believes would cause serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals, the Secretary shall provide to the Secretary of Homeland Security a notification under section 417(k) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 350f(k)) describing the smuggled food and, if available, the names of the individuals or entities that attempted to import such food into the United States. CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
    (c) Public Notification- If the Secretary– CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
    (1) identifies a smuggled food; CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
    (2) reasonably believes exposure to the food would cause serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals; and CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
    (3) reasonably believes that the food has entered domestic commerce and is likely to be consumed, CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
    the Secretary shall promptly issue a press release describing that food and shall use other emergency communication or recall networks, as appropriate, to warn consumers and vendors about the potential threat. CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
    (d) Definition- In this subsection, the term ‘smuggled food’ means any food that a person introduces into the United States through fraudulent means or with the intent to defraud or mislead.
    Seems pretty clear to me.
    I’m disappointed that I didn’t see a clear definition of a producer small enough to skip the more onerous aspects of the new regulations, only a paragraph declaring that the Secretary will endeavor not to interfere with small businesses.
    It’s legislation. It is imperfect. It is not as bad as many seem to think.
    ivan

  • Mike Hopkins

    The key scare phrase is “onerous”. No one has listed anything that would be onerous to small farms. Natural or organic farms are already maintaining top quality and get inspected. So, what more would they have to do?
    Plus, section 101 says it excludes farms an restaurants. From what?

  • Misha

    I especially think the person who pulled up the side-effects of herbal supplements could compare the severity of these to products produces by the like of Pharmac etc…
    With the amount and breadth of terrible, hideously processed food available, chickens fed with antibiotics, intensive beef agriculture, HFCS IS kids food, terrible records of golden handshakes from large corporates… the ever expanding fat American ass ever poised over the rest of the planet.. we’re just dying to have your best practice in food safety and quality shared. And with the like of the EU? HA! Like there couldn’t be a lesson to learn from say, Germany for example.. where you can’t MOVE without finding an organic supermarket.
    So the rest of the world has to comply with FDA “best practice” in order to be allowed to import food into a very warped and broken America? Not to point out the obvious but so far with the amount of obesity, heart disease, and cancer in America today – the FDA is doing a Swell job of “helping” it’s citizens.
    I am at the point of incomprehension.
    The more control you sanction, The more chemicals you pump into our food chain, the less diversity you perpetuate… has exactly the effect you see now.
    It’s sad how short sighted the American nation is.
    And even sadder that the rest of the world knows more about this bill than the Majority of American citizens.

  • crs

    Lighten up, all. No bill is perfect and most are far from it. That’s why we have three branches of gov’t – so the kinks can get worked out in action. The important thing is getting a start on dealing with food safety issues that have been getting more problematic for years. By the way, I don’t mind a small farmer exemption even in interstate commerce, as long as the source of such foods are clearly identified. That way the foodies can take their chances, while I can avoid the risk – nothing personal, I’m not buying anything canned by your grandma in her lovely old-fashioned kitchen. Maybe she’s resistant to botulism by now, but not me!

  • Billy from the Hills

    Or this one: “My mother cooked for our family for years and sold home-made jams at the church. No one ever got sick.”
    I don’t think so. Your mother was either incredibly lucky or you have a memory problem. Sorry.
    What a stupid thing to say. Do you think you need a degree to make jam? Typical american thinking. I think everyone should have to spend a mandatory 2 or 3 years producing food on a small scale to dispel these fears.
    Luck had little to do with it and I do not have a memory problem.

  • katherine

    Well that last comment sums it up. While I feel sure that your grandma’s canned goods are far safer than almost any of the highly processed foods in the grocery store (especially if she grew the fruit herself), the last poster has his own opinion. Shouldn’t we each be able to choose what we will eat without government interference? I am wholeheartedly comfortable with the FDA requiring some kind of label like “not FDA approved” on all organic, wholesome, locally produced, non GMO foods, in exchange for exempting these products from all government regulation. Let the buyer beware. That way the previous poster could avoid those products. For me, it would serve as a shining beacon, helping me to find the natural food products I seek, a shortcut guarantee that I am not getting overprocessed, contaminated, irradiated, hormone and antibiotic laden, genetically modified foods such as those typically produced by factory farms so in favor with the FDA. I could search out the “not FDA approved” label before I buy. This way the consumer decides between options, everyone is clear on what those options are, and no one is criminalized. To have freedom of choice, there must be choices. There are no real choices in the grocery store. I know more about my own health needs, and certainly care more about them, than the FDA does. Protecting the citizenry for our own good is almost always the battle cry of those who would unduly restrict our liberties without getting us excited about it.

  • Melodie

    I’d take grandma’s jams any day over that HFCS-laden crap on the shelves with a name like “Smuckers.”

  • kevin

    another george soros ploy monsanto foods hmmm largest stockholder is soros. wake up people another two thousand page bill we have to pass in the middle of the night to see whats in it they are killing our country folks welcome to communist russia start killing commies see how fast this b.s. stops

  • Josh

    We all talk a good game, time to step up to the plate. look at all the Monsanto execs working in the government! Its sick when you really think about. They are self regulating themselves, just as Cheney did with Hallibertin!!! How many of you would like to stop world hunger? If we all grow food we would have no hungry people in this world at all.
    But no, we all sit by and let our governments make war with one another! I for one grow alot of my food, and so should all of you.

  • http://foodsafetynews.com marlys

    Reading all of these posts, I am reminded you are all using your freedom of speach. Thank you for your opinions. Katherine you said the FDA could require a lable of ” not FDA approved” that way consumers can make their own choice. I agree with less criminalazation and more freedom of choice. Please let us all choose a better diet and lifestyle for our selves and our children. Our future depends on it.

  • Joseph Pope

    Most of these comments are nuts to me….let’s suppose we didn’t have a pure food and drug act 105 yrs ago. Things could be a lot worse, so i see no problem with the government and the FDA (who, for goodness sake, needs a lot more authority) stepping in and setting standards for clean food. I’m guessing in the last century most people have seem to forgotten about the ugly standards at meat processing plants. By the way for those who say “hands off my natural supplements”, i’ve read about the times where drug manufacturers added almost anything and everything to medicines causing plenty of people to fall ill, so yes we need to regulate “natural” supplements whose side effects are almost not reported, whose safe dosages have never been established.

  • Meghan

    All legislation is a good way to put it. Before anyone gets their pants in a dither why don’t you see what comes of it.
    First off everything is not black and white-
    Yes the FDA has a certain level of corruption and nonsense like all government agencies and no it isn’t OK but with that said I can gurantee you without some regulation in place you would be way way worse off.
    Big Ag, Pharma, and anyone and everyone would be feeding you way worse and telling you how great it is.
    In this sense you still have the freedom to decide for yourself what to put into your mouth, like I do not eat foods that contain GM ingrediants- you’ll still be able to do that so screw Monsanto- …Hopefully though it will be more sans E Coli.
    Please people take it down a notch. I don’t care for the FDA and I do not think that they are without huge faults but there is some good. There is some protection as imperfect as it is.
    And I have read most of the parts of the bill that I didn’t fall asleep through and I think you can’t know till you know and so far it doesn’t seem badly intentioned or set to give power to big companies so let’s see. LET’S SEE…
    I feel for the most part all this crazy reaction will be just hot air and that they may be a few parts that may need to be tweaked because there are always people looking to abuse things.
    BTW- if you call people retarded – not a nice word dude- just because you think differently, then that makes you ignorant and narrow minded, great ideas are made from the best sides of all arguments because NO ONE is always right. Humble yourself.

  • da

    what bullshit. a mom can’t cook for years without poisoning someone? an artisanal maker is not safe? what crap. the “artisanal” locations you identify are mostly big chains and places like COSTCO which have fake “artisanal” brands produced by huge manufacturers. your “research” is not documented or validated by any outside source, and has no credibility. at least try to make it look real. BS flag is waving very hard.

  • David

    Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it. Read Sinclair Lewis again to remind your self what used to be in the days of “small government.” Not all regulation is bad.
    About grandma’s jam, I’ve done plenty of canning but I also do know how bacteria work and how difficult they can be to get rid of, especially on metallic surfaces and the like. But go ahead, eat whatever you like. But what happens if you get the problems the Stephanie Smith had, but the food producer has no way to make reparations. Not only will it destroy the person made ill, it will destroy the small business, its employees, and the owners’ families. Just making yourself and LLC doesn’t abdicate the business of responsibility. I think it’s laudable to have some legislation that makes the small business owners aware of their responsibility, if they would only wake up and become aware.

  • Mae Johns

    I have to laugh at the stupid comments railing against the government and the FDA. Yes, stupid. Before the FDA was started, meat producers routinely put arsenic in meat to hide rot. Butter was ‘tinted’ with lead to make it more yellow. Producers put chalk in milk to make it thicker. Did you know that? Do you think that’s fine? You think corporations are going to have your best interests at heart? Grow up. And wake up. It’s not the ‘big bad government’ that’s going to hurt you. It’s greedy corporations who bow to one master: the dollar. ‘Collateral damage’ doesn’t bother them. They figure out how much consumer deaths will cost them, build it into the cost of the food, and go ahead and produce unsafe products. Without a qualm. So they need government (which is we, the people, you ignorant hicks) to watch them. Closely.

  • Luke

    Sen. Richard Durbin [D-IL] should not be proposing food regulation anymore than Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) should be proposing coal regulation. This bill was written by Monsanto as yet another attempt in it’s ongoing campaign to eliminate its competition in North America.
    This kind of top down regulation always benefits larger companies as a result of scale. ie A company doing $500 million in sales is not subject to a bit more regulation (read, additional expense) than a company doing $500 thousand in sales, but not 1000 times more. As a result, the larger company’s regulatory cost per dollar of sales is vastly less than the smaller company’s.
    I would also like to second the earlier proposition that attempting to federally bureaucrat our way to %100 food safety is not only ridiculous but dangerous. Life involves a degree of risk which all adults must cope with. This is the cost of freedom (as opposed to aggressive wars against distant nations, but that’s another rant.) I am reminded of the recent TSA molestation or the scanner fiasco. In both cases we are buying minuscule, if any, increased security in exchange for significant concessions to federal authority.
    As market shifts over the last few years make clear, Americans are not as stupid as we are so often told. As it becomes more obvious than big Agro is either unable or unwilling to provide a reasonable level of “food safety” individuals will make individual decisions about where, and from whom to buy the food to feed their families.
    In the end this comes down to trust. I, for one, would rather have the freedom to choose whom to trust each time I spend my dollars than to have the FDA (or any other agency) decide who I trust for me.
    Sorry about the long post. Whichever way you feel, please take the time to contact your congress people, even now that the bill has passed. If common people don’t speak up, the only voices they hear are the lobbyists.

  • jla

    Yes but what about the part about making “saving seeds” illegal. Is this actually part of the bill? With Monsato running around, this makes me nervous.

  • Michelle

    Seriously Mr. Chuck Jolley, I would like to know if someone, and who, may have paid you to try to sway people away from seeing how easily and terribly this bill can be abused, or from seeing the highly probable evil agenda behind it to begin with?
    to Mae Johns’ comment:
    Based on your words, “You think corporations are going to have your best interest at heart?…It’s not the ‘big bad government’ that’s going to hurt you. It’s greedy corporations who bow to one master: the dollar. ‘Collateral damage’ doesn’t bother them.” Unfortunately that is one of the biggest problems behind this bill in my opinion, but it seems you must not yet be aware of the shocking ties between Monsanto and the FDA. Here’s just one of many documentaries that share a little of that:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5oixaFrppA
    and notice the 2nd paragraph about Margaret Miller in the included article…In addition to Monsanto’s disturbing ties with the FDA, they also have plenty of lobbyists and money (I’ve even come across info that says Bill Gates is now also supporting their research) to sway many politicians their way. I highly recommend doing further research on both Monsanto as a company, their agenda, and their ties with the FDA. When a money hungry and power hungry corporation is practically one in the same with a government body, that’s very concerning.
    Personally, I think the fact that the recent movement toward healthier, organic or home-grown foods goes against Monsanto’s agenda to own the world’s food supply, this bill is an attempt to squash that movement, along with other evil intentions as well in my opinion. Their GMO’s have already begun to contaminate non-GMO farms, and anything with their patented GMO in it is their property. After looking further into things, it’s about impossible NOT to see where all of this is headed. Such things will eventually inevitably happen. I’m just shocked to see these things progressing so quickly.

  • Luke

    The simple fact is that government power will always be for sale to the highest bidder. Thus we, as peons, are best served by limiting the number of powers over our lives the government has to sell.
    With a little effort and a bit of travel (depending on where you live) you can buy food from any number of people who grow it. If you don’t like what you get from one, you can buy from another. It is in these small producers’ best interest not to poison they re customers for repeat business as well as litigious reasons. I suppose a deranged farmer could choose to put arsenic in their products but as the saying goes “You can’t help crazy.”
    As I said before, top down regulation favors the larger producers who can shrug off the added costs. Capitalism does not function in highly regulated scenarios because the biggest players will always be incentivised to use regulators against smaller competitors.
    In an ideal scenario the FDA type organizations would function as they are designed and that would be wonderful. In reality, the security offered by such agencies is spotty, if not altogether delusional. Especially as such agencies innately encourage the aggregation of production which adds multiple risks (as well as a generous incubation period) to the food delivery process.
    Another old saying, “Shake the hand that feeds you.” The simple shame of facing the neighbors you poisoned will always be a more effective deterrent than faceless (easily priceable) regulation.

  • J who doesn’t eat his veggies

    I feel that having read this bill (it took me about 5 long evenings and two full days to read through), rather disturbed. I am aware of Monsanto’s questionable practices of migrating executives and other personnel into the FDA, and also of several localized cases of small-producer safety problems, I would also like to nominate the suggestion made by Katherine to add a “Not USDA-Approved stamp to produce.
    Additionally I support making the fees and fines a company pays for violation or failure to comply with the FDA a 15-step incremental percentage of a companies’ after cost profit, adjusted upwards by how many states they distribute to, how many units of product they produce and sell each quarter, and how many people/plants/ and/or layers of management the company contains.
    I’d also like to see some legislation aimed at hiring requirements for the Food and Drug Administration. For example, any employee that was hired to the FDA who was employed by Monsanto Foods, for example, may not work on or with any employee working on a Monsanto complaint or incident. Another example would be, any representative or agent of the FDA would be financially monitored, to gaurantee that they aren’t receiving kickbacks for scrapped test results, covering up for plant failure, or prior warnings about impending inspections. If they want to work for the government, they [the government employed] can be monitored more closely to ensure that corruption is kept to the lowest possible degree.
    THAT being said, is my suggestion perfect? Not at all. There are numerous flaws and vulnerabilities inherent in any such legislation, not the least of which is the legislative process itself. Modifications made for the sake of keeping a bill or proposal alive, let alone the difficulty in securing the budget to support a full and time-efficient implementation of my suggestion, are all to easily ignored or accepted as a cost of doing business, as they say.
    Above all, I’m no economic analyst, so the cost of my suggestion may be non-feasible, but if anyone is more interested in my comprehensive position, rather than an attempted “wax on, wax off” approach, just stay tuned in for more comments on this thread under, “J who doesn’t eat his veggies.”

  • cjolley

    My friend Doc Raymond said, “And as Mr. Jolley well knows, but perhaps some readers do not, even the very small meat and poultry processors do get daily, continuous inspection from FSIS. The only exceptions being those that do custom slaughter and processing or have very limited retail sales. S 501 is primarily all about FDA authorities and activities.”
    And I have to agree with him…mostly. What he wrote is the way it is supposed to be. I also know there are not enough inspectors to do the job – a lack of funding is the primary reason. Inspection end enforcement also is not uniform. It depends on the skills and training of the inspector and which rules hee or she personally sees as most important.
    And a word to some of the other commenters: I am not paid off by any large agribusiness and to the gentle person who thought I was an idiot because he disagreed with my point-of-view: keep it civil, please. I write editorials which are, by definition, points-of-view. You have another way of looking at the subject and, by all means, you should share it but let’s respect each others thought processes.

  • Chuck Jolley

    My friend Doc Raymond said, “And as Mr. Jolley well knows, but perhaps some readers do not, even the very small meat and poultry processors do get daily, continuous inspection from FSIS. The only exceptions being those that do custom slaughter and processing or have very limited retail sales. S 501 is primarily all about FDA authorities and activities.”
    And I have to agree with him…mostly. What he wrote is the way it is supposed to be. I also know there are not enough inspectors to do the job – a lack of funding is the primary reason. Inspection end enforcement also is not uniform. It depends on the skills and training of the inspector and which rules hee or she personally sees as most important.
    And a word to some of the other commenters: I am not paid off by any large agribusiness and to the gentle person who thought I was an idiot because he disagreed with my point-of-view: keep it civil, please. I write editorials which are, by definition, points-of-view. You have another way of looking at the subject and, by all means, you should share it but let’s respect each others thought processes.