Updated with witness lists and Senate hearing details
It is going to be a busy week for food and health issues in the
Capital. President Obama is expected to announce the way forward for
health care reform and there are a number of food policy events on
Capitol Hill, including a briefing on antibiotics in agriculture, the
first congressional hearings on the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization,
and Senate lobby days for the pending FDA food safety reform bill.
Here’s an updated guide to key food-related events on the Hill this week:
Briefing on Alternatives to Routine Antibiotic Use in Food Animal Production
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and the Pew Campaign on Human Health and
Industrial Farming are hosting a briefing focusing on successful
business models for raising food animals without the routine use of
antibiotics. Feinstein is a lead sponsor of the Preservation of
Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), a bill that would ban
the routine, or nontherapeutic, use of antibiotics in food animal
production in an effort to curb antibiotic resistance.
briefing, which will be held in the Dirksen Senate office building from
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., will be moderated by Stephen Jay, Ph.D., a
professor of medicine and public health at Indiana University School of
Medicine, and will feature presentations from several antibiotic-free
meat producers. Bill Niman, founder of Niman Ranch; Linda Boardman,
president of Applegate Farms, an organic meat and cheese supplier for
Whole Foods; and Steve Ells, chairman and CEO of Chipotle Mexican
Grill, the largest purchaser of “naturally raised” meat in the U.S.,
are all on the panel.
According to Pew, up to 70 percent of
antibiotics sold in the U.S. are given to healthy food animals on
industrial farms “to promote growth and compensate for overcrowded,
Committeee Hearing: Improving Children’s Health: Strengthening Federal Child Nutrition Programs
House Education and Labor Committee is holding a hearing on
strengthening the federal nutrition and school meal problems though the
Child Nutrition Act reauthorization. According to the committee’s
statement, “Improving federal child nutrition programs is one of the
four pillars of First Lady Michelle Obama’s recently announced ‘Let’s
Move’ campaign to combat childhood obesity.”
concerns are likely to be discussed during the authorization process,
especially in light of a slew of recent school lunch safety exposes in
USA Today and the New York Times revealed gaps in the current system.
It was rumored that Mrs. Obama might testify in the hearing, but those rumors have since been debunked by White House aides.
Dora R. Rivas, president of the School Nutrition Association, Carolyn L. Morrison, president of the National Child and Adult Care Food Program Forum, and Kiran Saluja, deputy director of Public Health Foundation Enterprises, Inc. will be among the witnesses. According to the committee, additional witnesses have yet to be announced. The hearing is in the Rayburn House Office Building at 2:30 p.m. A webcast of the hearing will be available on the
(Sidenote: committee chairman Rep. George Miller (D-CA) is so excited about child nutrition, he made a YouTube video about his meeting with Mrs. Obama to discuss the issue.)
Make Our Food Safe Coalition – Food Safety Action Day
Make Our Food Safe Coalition (MOFS) is making another push for Senate
action on the pending FDA food safety bill. Final details have yet to
be released, but key members of the coalition, which is made up of
public health, consumer, and industry groups, said they are bringing 45
foodborne illness victims and family members from 24 states to meet
with Senators and urge action on S. 510, the FDA Food Safety
Modernization Act, a bill that would increase the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration’s mandate and authority to regulate 80 percent of the
“The message we are delivering is two-fold: Act now
to get Senate leadership to put the bill on the floor for a vote and
oppose any amendment that could threaten the passage of this important
bipartisan legislation,” said a spokesperson for MOFS.
Wednesday the group will meet for dinner and the day of action will kick off Thursday at 8 a.m.
As Food Safety News has reported a number of times, S. 510 has been stalled behind the health care reform gridlock in the Senate
for months after being unanimously voted out of committee in November.
Many of the staffers working on health care are the same ones charged
with working out the details on the food safety bills.
Committee Hearing: Childhood Obesity – Beginning the Dialogue on Reversing the Epidemic
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) is also holding a hearing on the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin; Joe Thompson, director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity; Sandra Hassink, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Obesity Leadership Working Group; and Rashad Mendenhall, a running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers, will be testifying before the committee.
As White House food and agriculture blogger Obama Foodorama reported earlier this week, First Lady Michelle Obama will not be testifying at this hearing either.
The hearing is Thursday at 10 a.m. in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. A webast will be available on the HELP committee’s website.
Of course, Food Safety News
will be covering the food action on the Hill. Stay tuned for coverage,
and follow us on Twitter at @foodsafetynews for live-tweeting.