House Committee Exempts Livestock & Poultry From Food Safety Bill. Where’s the Dissent?

Courtesy: Laurea Padgett/Flickr

Courtesy: Laura Padgett/Flickr

During my TV-news days, I supported the old axiom; it must be a balanced report if we’re getting just as much negative feedback as we are positive responses. I found the same rule of thumb to hold true on Capitol Hill. Good legislation usually means each side had to make serious concessions, inevitably leaving a number of unhappy people to complain about its inadequacies. Perhaps that’s why I’m feeling a little uneasy over the latest developments surrounding the long overdue Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009. After some serious arm-twisting from Big Ag and members of the House Agriculture Committee, the members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously agreed Wednesday to alter the proposed legislation and “exempt livestock and poultry from oversight by the Food and Drug Administration.” I’ve heard a lot of praise for the committee’s bi-partisan approval of the bill, but where are the dissenters? Where is the healthy debate? Read More >

Food Safety Needs Nuance

If you are not yet passionate about food safety, it’s time to get your gusto going. If you need a little push, I suggest watching Food, Inc. (discussed in detail by my colleague Ralph Loglisci on this blog). Part of the film features the tragic death from tainted meat of two-and-a-half-year-old Kevin Kowalcyk and the seemingly Sisyphusan efforts by his mother to get Congress to create better food safety laws. Her hard work, and that of many other advocates, is finally paying off. Consumers (read: constituents) are increasingly concerned with the issue and Congress is listening. Numerous bills have been discussed in the past few months, and now it seems one piece of legislation is taking hold: the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009. Word on the street is it’s due for mark-up as early as today.

While I normally bemoan the slow moving ship that is our democracy, the rapidity with which this legislation is moving forward raises some concerns. Mostly because the kind of legislation we need to protect and promote a sustainable, healthy food system should be nuanced. And nuance takes time. Read More >