Browsing Posts tagged HACCP

NATURAL SOLUTIONS FOUNDATION
Your Global Voice of Health & Food Freedom™
www.HealthFreedomPortal.org

Health Freedom USA is pleased to re-post this article by Ms. Hannes which was originally circulated by our friends at NAIS Stinks.com … NAIS is the National Animal Identification System which wants to “chip” all farm animals, “voluntarily” — and, for many reasons we agree with them, NAIS stinks! Both Codex and S.510 are very NAIS friendly, and thus not friendly to farmers, consumer or environment – see: www.FriendlyFoodCertification.org.

Why S.510 Does NOT Protect Local, Natural Food… or Freedom!
S. 510 Hits A Snag
by: Doreen Hannes Dec. 4, 2010
Reprinted with permission from www.naisstinks.com

Senate Bill S 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, passed the Senate on November 30th, 74-23. Not a single Democrat crossed party lines. This bill is the coup on food in the US. Even though the Tester Amendment was included to dupe those who think it will stop small farmers and processors from being put right out of business, it will only slow down the demise of some small farms.

Then it came to light that a Constitutional issue that had been staring all of us in the face was present. The Senate did not pick up HR2749, which passed the House in July of 2009; instead they took up their own monster in S 510. They also began revenue generation in the Senate (Section 107 of the bill), which is expressly forbidden by the Constitution.

Faced with a patently un-Constitutional bill, that violates Constitutional process, we have to remain vigilant until BOTH houses have adjourned for the winter recess prior to the next session of Congress. Talk about roller coasters.

If the Constitution means anything at all, the House should blue slip S. 510, which would preclude them from taking the bill up and very likely run out the clock for passage in this session.

However, there are four choices available for the legislation to move forward before they adjourn on December 24th. The first is for the Senate to bring it back and get unanimous consent to remove the offending section. Since Senator Coburn of Oklahoma will not consent, that avenue is cut off.

Second is for the Senate to bust S. 510 down to the original a compromise amendment, remove the funding section and the Tester amendment and try to ram it through the entire senate process again before the 24th. This seems unlikely, but do not trust them as far as you can throw a semi trailer loaded with lead.

Third, the Senate could take HR2749, which has already passed the House, and rush it through the Senate, and it would go straight to the Presidents desk with no process with the House necessary. This also seems rather unlikely. The bills are very similar and would have the same detrimental effects for everyone, but the Senators are not familiar with the bill, so it could be really tough.

Fourth, the House Ways and Means committee could pass the bill through and forgive the Constitutional infraction and refuse to blue slip the bill, then vote on it before the 24th and we would have the bill albeit there would be legal issues brought forth that could possibly ensnare the regulations they want to write under this bill. This appears to be the most likely potential for S. 510.

Make no mistake about this, SB 510, or HR 2749 are worse than the Patriot Act, the Health Care bill, and the Federal Reserve Act combined. We can all live without little pieces of paper, and many of us can live without doctors, and we have been living with the increasing police state since 911, but none of us can live without food and water. If we lose food and water, we will not be able to fight anything else.

The Tester-Hagan Amendment Lipstick on a Pig

The largest deception played on the public in S. 510 is the inclusion of the Tester Amendment. This amendment was sold as the complete exemption for all small farms grossing less than $500,000 per year. But if one reads the actual amendment, it is evident that it will not do what it is purported to do for the vast majority of small producers.

The Tester Amendment has strident restrictions on those who may be exempted from HACCP (Hazard and Critical Control Point) implementations. HACCP is 50 pages of instructions that require a certifier to sign off on the plan, and a team to be trained in ensuring the plan is followed on the farm. The requirement of this plan put about 40% of small meat processors out of business several years ago. If you fall under the protection of the Tester amendment, you will not have to do it….but let us see how protective the Tester Amendment really is.

First, the Tester Amendment purports to exempt farms with less than $500,000 in sales from the requirements of S.510. However, to be exempt one must sell more than 50% of their products directly to consumers or restaurants within a 275-mile radius from production, and keep records substantiating those sales. The records are open for inspection and verification of the exemption. In other words, you have to prove you are playing by their rules through record keeping and approval of those records, or meet the more onerous requirements of S.510.

You must apply to be included in the protections of the Tester amendment. You must substantiate through your records for three years that you fit the category of selling more than 50% of average annual monetary value within this 275-mile radius. So, if you sell on the roadside or at a farmers market, you must have a map handy and ask for ID from everyone who purchases from you or lose your exemption. Nice, huh?

Proof of Residence for Food? Really?

I can see it now….A lovely early June day, with the birds singing and the smell of freshly mown hay hanging in the air like the best memory from childhood. A young mother pulls into the Farmers Market and readies herself for a wonderful shopping experience.

She approaches the first stand with her mouth nearly watering at the bright display of fresh produce. I would like 3 cucumbers, please, says the lady with her 3 kids and cloth grocery bag.

Great! Can I see your ID? replies the guy in bibs.

Oh, I am paying with cash she replies with a smile.

No matter, says the farmer, We have to make sure you are within a 275 mile radius of our farm in order to sell to you.

She looks perplexed and says, Well, we are not. We are on our way to visit my parents and I wanted to make a special dinner for all of us, using their locally produced foods so they could remember how good home grown veggies are….So I can not buy from you without an ID?

The farmer scratches his head and says, Now see, I have to be very careful. I belong to a CSA that sells to a Chipotle that is 276 miles from us, so all of my sales at market have to be local or I lose my exemption and will have to hire 5 people to take care of the paper work and then I just go out of business. So no, I can not sell to you. What is more, all the vendors here are part of the CSA, so no one here can sell to you. You have a nice day now!

No Surprises-It is Locally — Global

What we have in Tester is local Agenda 21 Sustainable Development. In sum, control over all human impact on the environment. Everything will need to be within the food shed, and if you are outside of the food shed, too bad for you. It is a great way to surveille and monitor food production and distribution. And you still fall under the broad based reason to believe of the Secretary with the Tester amendment. If the Secretary, meaning the head of the FDA or HHS thinks you may have a problem, or deems what you produce to be high risk, you will be shut down until they say you can begin again. All of your product is subject to mandatory recall; that is why you have to keep records of everyone you sell to. And you will have to register as a facility under the Bioterrorism Act of 2002, referred to as Sec 415 throughout the bill. (Knock knock—this is premises identification as in NAIS)

So please, do not tell me how great the Tester Amendment is, and that the expansive powers being granted to the DoD, DHS, HHS, FDA and USDA in this bill will be helpful to small farmers and local food production and make my food safe. Wake up and smell the coffee!!! Oh, wait. The only state that could produce coffee within 275 miles of itself, is Hawaii. Never mind. Wake up, and smell the tyranny, please.

(The best thing to do right now is to call the members of the House Ways and Means Committee as well as your own Representative and tell them they MUST blue slip S. 510. While I know it gets frustrating to call the Congress critters, the more they know that we know, the better the chance at slowing down the destruction they have planned for us. The switchboard number for Congress is 202-224-3121.

This is re-posted without permission, I hope they don’t mind. This is a good article about food safety and the FDA. Click in the title below to go to National Center for Policy Analysis

More FDA Authority Won’t Improve Food Safety

With as many as 5,000 Americans dying every year from food-borne illnesses, consumers would obviously benefit from a safer food supply. Unfortunately, the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act won’t help us reach that goal, says Gregory Conko, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

The real meat of the food safety legislation is its expansion of risk reduction rules called Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), which already apply to meat, poultry and seafood producers. HACCP programs require companies to examine their production streams, identify points where pathogens or other hazards may enter the system and take steps to make those processes safer.

* At the margin, HACCP probably has resulted in modest safety improvements for meat, poultry and seafood; so, in theory, expanding HACCP to more facilities seems to make sense.
* As implemented by regulators, however, HACCP tends to smother firms in paperwork and impose rigid, costly and out-of-date practices that simply have not kept up with changes in the food industry.
* That rigidity also discourages firms from developing innovative new processes and practices that could deliver real food safety improvements.

The legislation also grants the FDA the power to order product recalls. With public and media pressure for authorities to “do something” any time there is a food-borne illness outbreak, an FDA with unlimited power could be expected to order recalls on countless products that are perfectly safe, with predictable impacts on prices and consumer choice, says Conko.

* Recall what happened in June 2008, when the FDA encouraged a voluntary recall of tomatoes seemingly linked to that year’s major salmonella outbreak.
* Countless supermarkets, restaurants and consumers threw out crates of tomatoes in a scare that cost the industry an estimated $100 million in losses before the FDA realized the problem was actually tainted jalapeño peppers.

In the end, increasing the FDA’s regulatory authority in this way would waste taxpayer money on activities unlikely to improve safety, while driving many small and medium-sized producers out of the market and raising the cost of the food we eat.

Source: Gregory Conko, “More FDA Authority Won’t Improve Food Safety,” Forbes, December 2, 2010.

For text:

http://www.forbes.com/2010/12/02/fda-regulation-food-safety-opinions-contributors-gregory-conko.html?boxes=opinionschannellatest

For more on Regulatory Issues:

http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_Category=38

NATURAL SOLUTIONS FOUNDATION
Your Global Voice of Health & Food Freedom™
www.HealthFreedomPortal.org

Health Freedom USA is pleased to re-post this article by Ms. Hannes which was originally circulated by our friends at NAIS Stinks.com … NAIS is the National Animal Identification System which wants to “chip” all farm animals, “voluntarily” — and, for many reasons we agree with them, NAIS stinks! Both Codex and S.510 are very NAIS friendly, and thus not friendly to farmers, consumer or environment – see: www.FriendlyFoodCertification.org.

Why S.510 Does NOT Protect Local, Natural Food… or Freedom!
S. 510 Hits A Snag
by: Doreen Hannes Dec. 4, 2010
Reprinted with permission from www.naisstinks.com

Senate Bill S 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, passed the Senate on November 30th, 74-23. Not a single Democrat crossed party lines. This bill is the coup on food in the US. Even though the Tester Amendment was included to dupe those who think it will stop small farmers and processors from being put right out of business, it will only slow down the demise of some small farms.

Then it came to light that a Constitutional issue that had been staring all of us in the face was present. The Senate did not pick up HR2749, which passed the House in July of 2009; instead they took up their own monster in S 510. They also began revenue generation in the Senate (Section 107 of the bill), which is expressly forbidden by the Constitution.

Faced with a patently un-Constitutional bill, that violates Constitutional process, we have to remain vigilant until BOTH houses have adjourned for the winter recess prior to the next session of Congress. Talk about roller coasters.

If the Constitution means anything at all, the House should blue slip S. 510, which would preclude them from taking the bill up and very likely run out the clock for passage in this session.

However, there are four choices available for the legislation to move forward before they adjourn on December 24th. The first is for the Senate to bring it back and get unanimous consent to remove the offending section. Since Senator Coburn of Oklahoma will not consent, that avenue is cut off.

Second is for the Senate to bust S. 510 down to the original a compromise amendment, remove the funding section and the Tester amendment and try to ram it through the entire senate process again before the 24th. This seems unlikely, but do not trust them as far as you can throw a semi trailer loaded with lead.

Third, the Senate could take HR2749, which has already passed the House, and rush it through the Senate, and it would go straight to the Presidents desk with no process with the House necessary. This also seems rather unlikely. The bills are very similar and would have the same detrimental effects for everyone, but the Senators are not familiar with the bill, so it could be really tough.

Fourth, the House Ways and Means committee could pass the bill through and forgive the Constitutional infraction and refuse to blue slip the bill, then vote on it before the 24th and we would have the bill albeit there would be legal issues brought forth that could possibly ensnare the regulations they want to write under this bill. This appears to be the most likely potential for S. 510.

Make no mistake about this, SB 510, or HR 2749 are worse than the Patriot Act, the Health Care bill, and the Federal Reserve Act combined. We can all live without little pieces of paper, and many of us can live without doctors, and we have been living with the increasing police state since 911, but none of us can live without food and water. If we lose food and water, we will not be able to fight anything else.

The Tester-Hagan Amendment Lipstick on a Pig

The largest deception played on the public in S. 510 is the inclusion of the Tester Amendment. This amendment was sold as the complete exemption for all small farms grossing less than $500,000 per year. But if one reads the actual amendment, it is evident that it will not do what it is purported to do for the vast majority of small producers.

The Tester Amendment has strident restrictions on those who may be exempted from HACCP (Hazard and Critical Control Point) implementations. HACCP is 50 pages of instructions that require a certifier to sign off on the plan, and a team to be trained in ensuring the plan is followed on the farm. The requirement of this plan put about 40% of small meat processors out of business several years ago. If you fall under the protection of the Tester amendment, you will not have to do it….but let us see how protective the Tester Amendment really is.

First, the Tester Amendment purports to exempt farms with less than $500,000 in sales from the requirements of S.510. However, to be exempt one must sell more than 50% of their products directly to consumers or restaurants within a 275-mile radius from production, and keep records substantiating those sales. The records are open for inspection and verification of the exemption. In other words, you have to prove you are playing by their rules through record keeping and approval of those records, or meet the more onerous requirements of S.510.

You must apply to be included in the protections of the Tester amendment. You must substantiate through your records for three years that you fit the category of selling more than 50% of average annual monetary value within this 275-mile radius. So, if you sell on the roadside or at a farmers market, you must have a map handy and ask for ID from everyone who purchases from you or lose your exemption. Nice, huh?

Proof of Residence for Food? Really?

I can see it now….A lovely early June day, with the birds singing and the smell of freshly mown hay hanging in the air like the best memory from childhood. A young mother pulls into the Farmers Market and readies herself for a wonderful shopping experience.

She approaches the first stand with her mouth nearly watering at the bright display of fresh produce. I would like 3 cucumbers, please, says the lady with her 3 kids and cloth grocery bag.

Great! Can I see your ID? replies the guy in bibs.

Oh, I am paying with cash she replies with a smile.

No matter, says the farmer, We have to make sure you are within a 275 mile radius of our farm in order to sell to you.

She looks perplexed and says, Well, we are not. We are on our way to visit my parents and I wanted to make a special dinner for all of us, using their locally produced foods so they could remember how good home grown veggies are….So I can not buy from you without an ID?

The farmer scratches his head and says, Now see, I have to be very careful. I belong to a CSA that sells to a Chipotle that is 276 miles from us, so all of my sales at market have to be local or I lose my exemption and will have to hire 5 people to take care of the paper work and then I just go out of business. So no, I can not sell to you. What is more, all the vendors here are part of the CSA, so no one here can sell to you. You have a nice day now!

No Surprises-It is Locally — Global

What we have in Tester is local Agenda 21 Sustainable Development. In sum, control over all human impact on the environment. Everything will need to be within the food shed, and if you are outside of the food shed, too bad for you. It is a great way to surveille and monitor food production and distribution. And you still fall under the broad based reason to believe of the Secretary with the Tester amendment. If the Secretary, meaning the head of the FDA or HHS thinks you may have a problem, or deems what you produce to be high risk, you will be shut down until they say you can begin again. All of your product is subject to mandatory recall; that is why you have to keep records of everyone you sell to. And you will have to register as a facility under the Bioterrorism Act of 2002, referred to as Sec 415 throughout the bill. (Knock knock—this is premises identification as in NAIS)

So please, do not tell me how great the Tester Amendment is, and that the expansive powers being granted to the DoD, DHS, HHS, FDA and USDA in this bill will be helpful to small farmers and local food production and make my food safe. Wake up and smell the coffee!!! Oh, wait. The only state that could produce coffee within 275 miles of itself, is Hawaii. Never mind. Wake up, and smell the tyranny, please.

(The best thing to do right now is to call the members of the House Ways and Means Committee as well as your own Representative and tell them they MUST blue slip S. 510. While I know it gets frustrating to call the Congress critters, the more they know that we know, the better the chance at slowing down the destruction they have planned for us. The switchboard number for Congress is 202-224-3121.)

[Note from REL: you can also use our automated email system to message all your representatives in both houses of Congress; in fact, please to both! Click Here for Action Item: http://tinyurl.com/3xdz3lp.

This entry was posted on Sunday, December 5th, 2010 at 4:48 pm and is filed under Activism, BeyondOrganic, Disinformation, Divest Government of Food Regulation, Food Crisis, GMOs, Legislation to Oppose, Organics . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can track-back from your own site.

Natural Solutions Foundation
www.HealthFreedomUSA.org
www.GlobalHealthFreedom.org

Monsanto Owns the US Food Czar
More “Obama Change” — for the worse!

I urge you to read the following article with the following thought in mind: “If this is the food “safety” situation BEFORE the possible passage of HR 2749, the bill that will destroy small farmers’ ability to continue to stay in the food producing business, implement Codex guidelines and regulations lock, stock and barrel in the US (remember, the Codex Chair is now Dr. Karen Hulebeck, who said, at the beginning of the first day of the recent Codex meeting that her boss was the Secretary of the USDA, making no pretext whatsoever to behave as if her loyalties were to Codex or to global food supplies), destroy organic standards AND allow the FDA to declare martial law, quarantine sectors of (or the entire) US and commandeer personal property while they do it, what will it be like in the US if this bill is passed?”

What will it be like? It will be like living in a food police state, the triumph of food fascism.

Think that is extreme? Consider the definition of “Fascism” from Benito Mussolini, a guy who knew a thing or two about fascism, after all. He defined fascism as the control of the State by – and for – the Corporations (a system called “corporatism” by Mussolini).

You have a chance, now, to create the roar of Push Back so loud that even the lobbyist-deafened Congress of the United States will hear it… and back off.

Will that solve the problem? No. The corporatist elite WILL be back, through another door. And we will push them back through that one, too! Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

Meanwhile, add your emails to the more than 528,585 emails already sent to Congress, the White House, the FDA and USDA to say NO! to HR 1049 and YES! to clean, safe, unadulterated food!

Click below to add your voice to this roar of freedom saying “NO!” to food fascism.
http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/568/t/1128/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=26714

And while you are at it, add your voice here:
http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/568/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=27275

…to protect your own body and your familiy’s as well, from the deadly “magician’s choice” of jab [untested, unnecessary and profoundly unsafe Pandemic Swine Flu vaccine] or jail [incarceration at the Federal level [FEMA camps because of federal laws now in place] or the State one [State prisons because of Emergency Medical Powers Acts already enacted or being enacted now].

Please read the article below carefully. Then think about where you would get this information if you did not have the Natural Solutions Foundation to pull this all together and present you with the real truth, not the bland, balsamic and vacant distortions, lies and omissions of the MMD, the Media of Mass Deception. Now, please go to the link below to make your recurring donations, large or small (small add up, large are most appreciated, too!) to make sure that the real voice of health freedom, the Natural Solutions Foundation, keeps its voice loud and strong.

Donations: http://www.healthfreedomusa.org/?page_id=189

Yours in health and freedom,
Dr. Rima
Rima E. Laibow, MD
Medical Director
Natural Solutions Foundation
www.HealthFreedomUSA.org
www.GlobalHealthFreedom.org
Valley of the Moon(TM) Eco Demonstration Project
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PS – and remember to check back on our Health Freedom Blog for more news… Hint: a certain good doctor in Congress has just the medicine for our health freedom and, we understand, will be re-introducing the Health Freedom Protection Act (HR 2117 in the last Congress) but the new bill will have more of the right remedy for what ails the body politic! If you “follow” us on Twitter you will be kept up to date about our blog postings and we’ll let you know when new bills are put before Congress. Just go to: www.twitter.com/drlaibow and www.twitter.com/healthfreedomus and “follow” us.

————————————-
Monsanto’s man Taylor returns to FDA in food-czar role

POSTED 11:04 AM ON 8 JUL 2009

* BY TOM PHILPOTT

In a Tuesday afternoon press release, the FDA announced that Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto executive, had joined the agency as “senior adviser to the commissioner.” If the title is vague, the portfolio (pasted from the press release) is substantial—a kind of food czar of the Food and Drug Administration:

• Assess current food program challenges and opportunities
• Identify capacity needs and regulatory priorities
• Develop plans for allocating fiscal year 2010 resources
• Develop the FDA’s budget request for fiscal year 2011
• Plan implementation of new food safety legislation

Taylor’s new position isn’t his first in government. He’s a veteran apparatchik who has made an art of the role-swapping dance between the food industry and the agencies that regulate it. (The FDA’s press release highlights his government service while delicately omitting his Monsanto dalliances.) In her 2002 book Food Politics, the nutritionist and food-industry critic Marion Nestle describes him like this (quote courtesy of La Vida Locavore):

Mr. Taylor is a lawyer who began his revolving door adventures as counsel to FDA. He then moved to King & Spalding, a private-sector law firm representing Monsanto, a leading agricultural biotechnology company. In 1991 he returned to the FDA as Deputy Commissioner for Policy, where he was part of the team that issued the agency’s decidedly industry-friendly policy on food biotechnology and that approved the use of Monsanto’s genetically engineered growth hormone in dairy cows. His questionable role in these decisions led to an investigation by the federal General Accounting Office, which eventually exonerated him of all conflict-of-interest charges. In 1994, Mr. Taylor moved to USDA to become administrator of its Food Safety and Inspection Service … After another stint in private legal practice with King & Spalding, Mr. Taylor again joined Monsanto as Vice President for Public Policy in 1998.

“Vice president for public policy” means, of course, chief lobbyist. Monsanto had hired him to keep his former colleagues at USDA and FDA, as well as Congress folk, up to date on the wonders of patent-protected seed biotechnology.

“Since 2000,” the FDA press release informs us, “Taylor has worked in academic and research settings on the challenges facing the nation’s food safety system and ways to address them.”

Watchdog in flack’s clothing?

And somewhere along the away, according to his erstwhile critic Nestle, Taylor had a moment like Saul’s on the road to Damascus: the one-time company man suddenly became a valorous industry watchdog. In a surprising blog post Tuesday, Nestle declared Taylor “a good pick” for the FDA. “I say this in full knowledge of his history,” Nestle wrote. Here’s her rationale:

Watch what happened when he moved to USDA in 1994 as head of its Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Just six weeks after taking the job, Mr. Taylor gave his first public speech to an annual convention of the American Meat Institute. There, he announced that USDA would now be driven by public health goals as much or more than by productivity concerns. The USDA would soon require science-based HACCP systems in every meat and poultry plant, would be testing raw ground beef, and would require contaminated meat to be destroyed or reprocessed. And because E. coli O157.H7 is infectious at very low doses, the USDA would consider any level of contamination of ground beef with these bacteria to be unsafe, adulterated, and subject to enforcement action. Whew. This took real courage.

Nestle goes on to report that Taylor, after serving a stint as Monsanto’s chief lobbyist, became a kind of food-safety intellectual, issuing wise papers on how the regulators should oversee food companies. She points us to an “excellent report” co-written by Taylor, released this year.

That paper must be read carefully: Given Taylor’s new status, it—along with new guidelines released by the White House Food Safety Working on Tuesday—will likely serve as a kind of blueprint for the Obama FDA food oversight.

Two things jump out immediately from Taylor’s paper. First, it amounts to a forceful push to shift much more of the burden for funding food-safety operations to the state and local level. Its very title is “An Agenda for Strengthening State and Local Roles in the Nation’s Food Safety System.” The paper promotes a “Joint Funding Responsibility” between federal and local/state agencies.

Why is this a problem? For one, state and local budgets are parched dry, drained by the most severe economic downturn since the Depression. Is, say, California now going to fund a robust food-safety platform—with IOUs, perhaps?

Moreover, we’ve seen the sort of federal-state partnership Taylor promotes in action—and there have been spectacular failures. Remember the great peanut-butter calamity of 2008-‘09, the one that killed at least seven people and sickened hundreds? In that case, the FDA had farmed out inspections of the offending factory to Georgia authorities, who dutifully documented atrocious sanitary lapses even as tainted product got distributed nationwide.

The other immediate problem with Taylor’s blueprint relates to scale. A sane food-safety policy would do two things: 1) rein in the gigantic companies that routinely endanger millions with a single lapse at a single plant—say, a gigantic beef company that can send out 420,000 pounds of E. coli-tainted beef from a day’s processing; and 2) do so in a way that doesn’t harm the thousands of small-scale, community-oriented operations rising up in new alternative food systems.

Again and again, we’ve seen regulations designed to rein in big players actually consolidate their market power by wiping out small players. As a recent Food & Water Watch report showed, regulations that make sense for industrial slaughterhouses can spell the end for community- and regional-scale ones. The Taylor report only addresses this critical point once in its 80 pages: “Due regard should be given to making the traceback requirement feasible for small businesses.” Clearly, the small-scale producer issue isn’t a priority for Monsanto’s man at FDA.

A technocrat’s tinkering

With the widely respected Marion Nestle throwing her support behind the Taylor pick, I went looking for other perspectives. I asked Patty Lovera, assistant director of Food & Water Watch, for her take. FWW has been actively working to promote a scale-appropriate food-safety regime that checks Big Food without crushing small producers.

Lovera does not share Nestle’s enthusiasm. “Taylor basically promotes a risk-based approach, and we don’t think that’s adequate,” she told me. Lovera explained that in a risk-based approach, regulators focus limited resources on areas of the food system that pose the most risk. Sounds logical, she said, but it’s proven difficult to predict where risk factors really lie. I asked her if the peanut-butter debacle was a good example. Who would have foreseen multiple deaths from a factory that produces peanut paste for processed food manufacturers? She concurred. She added that the USDA’s FSIS program, which oversees meat safety, has largely failed in a 10-year effort to identify the riskiest parts of the meat-production process.

Then there’s the emphasis on what Nestle praised in her blog post as “science-based HACCP systems.” HACCP stands for “hazard analysis and critical control point.” In an HACCP system, you identify the points in a process that pose the most risk and “fix” the problem.

“That approach is really geared to techno fixes,” Lovera told me—stuff like ammonia washes, irradiation, etc. These procedures don’t seek to, say, keep salmonella-tainted peanut butter out of cookies, but rather to make salmonella-exposed cookies safe to eat. Moreover, the HACCP approach “hasn’t proven friendly to small producers,” she adds. To see the Obama FDA appear to embrace it, she told me, “makes us cringe.” In the end, the food safety system doesn’t just need to tinker with the use of scarce resources, leveraged by increasing the burden on states and localities. It needs to devote more resources to actual inspections.

As for Taylor, here’s my take: Despite massive marketing budgets, the food industry has become widely distrusted over the last several years, with high-profile outbreaks a major reason. “Consumers are increasingly wary of the safety of food purchased at grocery stores,” declares a recent study. “And their confidence in—and trust of—food retailers, manufacturers and grocers is declining.”

The industry knows it needs an improved safety system; technocrats like Taylor can deliver a marginally improved food safety system while preserving profit margins and market share.

Perhaps the FDA’s new food czar can save some lives—I hope he does. It’s abominable when people die from eating pre-fab peanut butter cookie or salad from a bag. Taylor’s tinkerings could well reduce such disasters.

But what we really need is a food safety system that takes the shit out of industrial meat and the salmonella out of peanut butter, without dumping on small producers. And I don’t think Taylor will deliver that—or even try.

http://www.grist.org/article/2009-07-08-monsanto-FDA-taylor/
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‘Nough said… now take action!

Food protection: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/568/t/1128/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=26714

Self-Shielding: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/568/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=27275

from FOOD SAFETY NEWS DISCUSSION
by John Munsell ~~ 12-30-09


After implementing policies for many years which complicate, if not make impossible, tracebacks to the source, USDA/FSIS seems to indicate it is willing to consider a midstream change in its attitudes, and policies, regarding Tracebacks to the TRUE ORIGIN of contamination.The December 9 issue of Dow Jones also refers to the upcoming January USDA hearing, but no specific date has been set. One of many concerns I have is that the agency may well attempt to produce yet another prosaic Notice/Directive/Policy which multiplies words, but accomplishes nothing, the primary objective being to disingenuously and piously portray USDA as America’s ultimate public health agency. The agency’s historical refusal to traceback to the origin is readily understood.

First of all, it is pertinent to note that E.coli and Salmonella are “Enteric” bacteria, which by definition means that they emanate from within animals’ intestines, and by extension proliferate on manure-covered hides. Retail meat markets (insert Lunds/Byerlys et al), restaurants (insert Sizzlers and dozens others here), and the majority of meat processing plants (review this century’s recalls) do NOT slaughter, thus do not have animal intestines or manure-covered hides on their premises. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that the vast majority of E.coli and Salmonella-laced meat is caused by sloppy kill floor dressing procedures. Well, why doesn’t USDA aggressively trace back to the slaughter plant origins? If tracebacks were successfully accomplished which reveal that the contamination ORIGINATED at a slaughter plant, a public backlash would discredit both the agency and the slaughter establishments. Why? Because successful tracebacks would reveal (1) that the big slaughter plants continue to ship tonnages of contaminated meat into commerce, bearing the official USDA Mark of Inspection; and (2) the tracebacks would reveal that the agency is asleep at the wheel at the biggest plants, by official agency design. Why do I state that? Because the current form of meat inspection, which is called Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (or HACCP) deregulated the largest slaughter facilities. Prior to HACCP, the agency promised the industry that under the HACCP protocol, (1) the agency would maintain a “Hands Off” non-involvement role, (2) the agency would no longer police the industry, but the industry would police itself, (3) the agency would disband its previous command & control authority, and (4) each plant would write its own HACCP Plan, and the agency could not tell the industry what must be in their HACCP Plans. True to its word, USDA has fully lived up to its pre-HACCP promises, but only at the deregulated largest plants. In stark contrast, the agency has used HACCP to hyper-regulate the small plants. These differences are begging for a movie or book to expose the agency’s true intentions, which are focused on justifying USDA’s semi-retirement at the biggest plants, while hagriding small plants out of existence.

Today, 88% of feedlot-fattened steers and heifers are killed at the Big 4 packer plants, which enjoy political clout and the economic wherewithal to force USDA into paralysis. The agency lives in fear, knowing that if it attempts truly meaningful enforcement actions at the big packers, the agency will be defending itself in court, and for good reason! Realizing that USDA promised to maintain a “Hands Off” non-involvement role under HACCP, that it would no longer police the industry, and would jettison its previous command-and-control authority, the agency has knowingly painted itself into a corner which prevents it from forcing changes onto non-compliant big plants. USDA fully deserves to lose such litigation, and will, so chooses to avoid litigation. So, to circumvent this delicate problem, the agency has implemented policies (some of which are not written) which prevent tracebacks to the origin.

We should not be surprised when we continually experience these ongoing outbreaks and recurring recalls, because both (1)USDA and (2)litigation have focused its sanctions against the downstream destination facilities (restaurants, retail meat markets, and further processing plants) which have unwittingly purchased meat which was previously contaminated with invisible pathogens. Until USDA is willing to Force the Source, rather than Destroying the Destination, America is virtually guaranteed ongoing outbreaks.

USDA is totally opposed to putting Bill Marler out of business, and in fact is Mr. Marler’s ultimate ally by promoting the rights of the big slaughter plants to continue producing enteric bacteria-laced meat with virtual impunity. Why does USDA appear to have experienced a sudden change in heart regarding Tracebacks? I propose that since successful tracebacks have been accomplished for melamine-laced products, spinach to a mere handful of California farms, as well as tracebacks of lettuce, peppers, peanut butter, etc, USDA’s historical inability to traceback to the slaughter plants of origin has become monumentally conspicuous in comparison. And think of the irony of this historical fact!

Although FDA has inspectors in produce plants only once every few years, the agency has successfully accomplished these tracebacks. USDA on the other hand, has inspectors in every meat plant every day, yet is strangely unable to match FDA’s success in performing tracebacks. Perhaps the Obama administration is to be credited with the USDA’s born-again metamorphosis in its alleged desire to suddenly perform tracebacks to the origin of contamination. I can guarantee everyone one thing: we had best be closely watching every statement USDA makes in its January hearing, because the agency’s past performance in this area proves that USDA fears big packer clout more than it fears public health outbreaks.

John Munsell

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