School nutrition standards were the central focus of Thursday’s House Appropriations Committee markup.
Democrats attempted to remove a provision from the agriculture appropriations bill that will give certain schools a waiver on compliance with nutrition standards.
After an hour of debate, the amendment introduced by the subcommittee’s ranking member, U.S. Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), to remove the waiver was rejected in a 29-22 vote.
Two of the amendments that did pass the committee were U.S. Rep. Jim Moran’s (D-VA) horse slaughter amendment and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s (D-CT) “Chinese chicken” amendment.
Moran’s amendment to prevent funding for inspections of horse slaughter plants mirrors the one that passed the Senate Appropriations Committee last week.
“There are very substantive reasons to support this amendment,” Moran said. “Horses aren’t raised for human consumption. As a result, they pose unique health risks …. They’re often given chemicals — steroids and the like — that can be toxic to humans.”
He added that inspections of horse slaughter plants divert millions of dollars away from the inspection of other products.
“The USDA has included this defund request in their budget [for] the last two years,” Moran said.
Because of the demand for horsemeat around the world, the U.S. exports approximately 138,000 horses for slaughter each year, said U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL), subcommittee chairman.
“Once the horses leave this country, we cannot control how they’re treated in transport or in their slaughter,” he said, adding that the amendment “is an endorsement of outsourcing of U.S. jobs.”
The full committee chairman, U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), initially rejected the amendment based on a voice vote, but a roll-call vote resulted in 28-22 in favor.
DeLauro’s amendment would prevent poultry processed in China from being used in the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program and Summer Food Service Program.
DeLauro did not have to put up much of a fight for the amendment. The bill found no objection in a voice vote.
“This is something we all agree on, and, just to prove to you that I am not one to hurt our school kids, I accept it,” Aderholt said. “I have the best intentions for our kids to eat healthy.”
DeLauro did answer one question about whether poultry processed in China would already be blocked by the “Buy American” provision, explaining that the rule applies to food supplied through USDA, but that there are no restrictions on products from private vendors.
At the conclusion of the session, the agriculture appropriations bill was approved by a vote of 31-18.© Food Safety News