Thursday, July 30, 2009

HR 2749 Food Safety Enhancement Act-Update

HR Bill 2749: Food Safety and Enhancement Act of 2009 Failed yesterday. This is a victory for all artisan food producers and locavores.

Although I supported some of the ideas of this bill and especially the spirit of it. The major problem is that this bill is that it would treat all food vendors the same from your local bakery, like Wild Flour Bakery to the company that makes Wonder Bread, Interstate Bakeries (doesn't that sound delicious). This bill assumes that they are all on the same playing field. This just isn't the case local artisan producers make their food by hand and through love of their product and using high quality ingredients make food that will naturally be better for all of us. However this bill would have made them and the big businesses pay a $500 fee and do a "Hazard Analysis" study. This $500 would be enough that some small producers would fold and the paper work in a "Hazard Analysis" study would be enough to bury many small businesses. Whereas the large businesses such as Kraft would not blink an eye at the nominal $500 fee and would have enough interns or other low paid employees to do the mountainous paper work required by this bill.

Another issue I had with this bill concered "interstate shipping", which would make any producer who engaged in shipping their products across state lines to have a "Food Safety Plan". This would be the same plan for River Valley Kitchens who sell at our local farmers market, but are from Wisconsin as it would be for BG Foods. Under this bill they both would have to develop a food safety plan that included all of these elements:
  1. preventive controls being implemented;
  2. procedure for monitoring preventive controls;
  3. procedures for taking corrective action;
  4. verification activities for the preventive controls, including validation, review of monitoring and corrective action records, and procedures for determining whether the preventive controls are effectively preventing, eliminating, or reducing to an acceptable level the occurrence of identified hazards or conditions;
  5. record keeping procedures;
  6. procedures for the recall of articles of food, whether voluntarily or when required;
  7. procedures for the trace back of articles of food, whether voluntarily or when required;
  8. procedures to ensure a safe and secure supply chain for the ingredients or components used in making the food manufactured, processed, packed, transported or held by such facility; and
  9. procedures to implement the science-based performance standards issued.
I am a teacher and in education we have a saying, "Fair doesn't mean everyone gets the same it means everyone gets what they need." This bill was just wrong because it tried to make every play by the same rules, however everyone wasn't playing the same game. I believe that if this bill had passed it would have closed many good small businesses who serve a great healthy alternative to the mass produced junk that lines our grocery stores.

Bill Summary:
House Voting Results (check to see how your representative voted and let them know what you think):

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