Food Safety Bill

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will mark up S. 510, the Senate version of major food safety legislation already approved by the House of Representatives, on Wednesday, November 18.

The bill focuses on foods regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, not meat and poultry which is regulated by USDA.

The bill includes several key reforms that would put real teeth into federal regulation of large-scale food processing corporations to better protect consumers. However, the bill as written would also do serious harm to family farm value added processing, local and regional food systems, conservation and wildlife protection, and organic farming.

The good news is the HELP committee could fix those problems with the adoption of some common sense provisions to retain a crack down on corporate bad actors without erecting dangerous new barriers to the growing healthy food movement based on small and mid-sized family farms, sustainable and organic production methods, and more local and regional food sourcing.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and the National Organic Coalition, have fashioned just such a set of common sense provisions that must be added to S 510.

 – The bill should provide small and mid-sized family farms that market value-added farm products with training and technical assistance in developing food safety plans for their farms.

– The bill should direct FDA to narrow the kinds of farm activities subject to FDA control and to base those regulations on sound risk analysis. (Current FDA rules assume, without any scientific evidence or risk analysis, that all farms which undertake any one of a long list of processing, labeling or packaging activities should be regulated.)

– The bill should direct FDA to ease compliance for organic farmers by integrating the FDA standards with the organic certification rules. FDA compliance should not jeopardize a farmer’s ability to be organically certified under USDA’s National Organic Program.

– The bill should insist that FDA food safety standards and guidance will not contradict federal conservation, environmental, and wildlife standards and practices, and not force the farmer to choose which federal agency to obey and which to reject.

–  Farmers who sell directly to consumers should not be required to keep records and be part of a federal “traceback” system. All other farms should not be required to maintain records electronically or records beyond the first point of sale beyond the farmgate.

From The Community Food Security Coalition

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