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Are Republicans Ready to Block Food Safety?

Are Republicans Ready to Block Food Safety?

President Obama’s signing of the newest food safety bill was hoped to bring better oversight and reduce the occurrences of foodborne illnesses that have been steadily increasing across the country.  But if the new 2011 Republican-controlled Congress has its way, the bill will never be enacted.

Via Bloomberg:

The measure, passed by Congress last month, gives the FDA more power to police domestic and international producers. It authorizes more inspections, requires most food companies to develop hazard prevention plans and gives the agency the ability to force recalls of tainted products. Implementing the law would cost about $1.4 billion over five years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

“There’s a high possibility of trimming this whole package back,” Kingston said yesterday in a telephone interview. “While it’s a great re-election tool to terrify people into thinking that the food they’re eating is unsafe and unsanitary, and if not for the wonderful nanny-state politicians we’d be getting sick after every meal, the system we have is doing a darn good job.”

Kingston, who voted against the food-safety bill, was the subcommittee’s senior Republican last year, when Democrats held a House majority. He is in line to head the panel after the Republican-controlled House convenes tomorrow.

Think Progress blasts Kingston’s posturing on the bill and his claims that blocking the law would save funds, or that the food system is safe enough.

Even without some of the high-profile food recalls of last year — including of salmonella-contaminated eggs and E. coli-contaminated spinach — there is a significant public health justification for upgrading the nation’s food safety system.

At the moment, one out of six Americans suffers from a foodborne illness every year, with 128,000 of those resulting in hospitalization. Ultimately, 3,000 people die from foodborne illness each year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The law gives the FDA the ability to force recalls, which it currently is barred from doing, and do more to inspect food coming into the country.

As The Wonk Room explained, aside from the public health benefits, the bill will actually save taxpayers money in the long-run (while costing them nothing in the short-run). According to Georgetown University’s Produce Safety Project, foodborne illness costs the U.S. $152 billion annually.

Republicans are also anxious to repeal as much of healthcare reform in the 2011 session, which will mean that not only will Americans have more incidences of illness, but no coverage for treatment when they get sick, either.

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177 comments

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10:23AM PST on Feb 5, 2011

Most of the foodborne illness comes from other outlets such as where we eat, and how we store our food . You are less likely to get sick from the food from companies that harvest it. However it does happen from time to time, but you have to ask yourself how it became infected with it in the first place, mostly by HUMANS themselves.

10:15AM PST on Feb 5, 2011

Yvette this bill is aimed right at you go vegan or organic, let us not forget the little minnow in cali, Egypt is now hording wheat for its people and the cost of food here is rising at a fast pace, all planned in my eyes to make humans suffer worldwide. I say call off the dogs and let people live!!!!!

9:55PM PST on Feb 4, 2011

I'm with you Monica r....because if this bill goes through next is codex and then not only will we have no real food but no supplements either. We are indeed in deep trouble. But as long as everyone has their tv's and can watch stupid reality shows, too many don't care!

12:44AM PST on Jan 25, 2011

ok thx

10:39AM PST on Jan 14, 2011

Out of the 5,000 food-borne illness deaths each year in the United States, only 1,809 are "attributable to foodborne transmission" according to the CDC

E.coli, which is often quoted in the big scare stories about food safety, only kills 78 people a year through food-borne transmission (52 plus 26, from the CDC's chart). Interestingly, according to the CDC's own numbers (from 1998), more people are killed from being struck by lightning each year than from e.coli.

• Listeria kills 499 people and Salmonella kills 553 people. But salmonella poisoning is easily acquired from store-bought chickens, of which two-thirds are contaminated with salmonella every day! Since the food safety bill doesn't even address chickens, cows or other animals because those are handled by the USDA, this salmonella fatality figure probably won't be reduced at all. (Salmonella comes largely from animals: Fowl, reptiles, etc.)

So how many people will the Food Safety Modernization Act actually impact? It's primarily going to address e.coli poisoning and Listeria contamination. So we're talking about a grand total of 78 + 499 people each year, or 577 people.

By the way, for comparison, consider the fact that 300 people die in the U.S. each year from penicillin allergies. Another 14,500 people die each year from taking NSAID painkiller medications. Nearly three quarter of a million people are killed by conventional medicine (drug deaths, surgical mistakes, iatrogenic deaths, etc, source: De

11:30PM PST on Jan 13, 2011

Safe food? Shouldn't be all be entitled to that?

6:04AM PST on Jan 11, 2011

THANKS

8:11PM PST on Jan 10, 2011

You GO you Republicans...if you do enough stupid, destructive stuff that hurts enough people, this country might sit up and say "You're outta here". Well - I can hope - can't I?

8:40AM PST on Jan 10, 2011

Go lacto-veg or vegan, organic and cruelty-free dairy only, and watch to see how everything improves dramatically. We are all in this together, after all, the entire multi-dimensional stream, this material realm and more. It doesn't end just because we move on from our current bodies. Each decision we make is part of the ongoing whole.

8:18PM PST on Jan 9, 2011

noted...thanx

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