A couple years ago President Obama signed the Food Safety and Modernization Act, a $1.4 billion overhaul of our antiquated Food Safety laws which had not been updated in 80 years! The law was intended to prevent deadly outbreaks of food-borne illnesses before they occurred instead of reacting after they became epidemic. With increased food inspections, the Food and Drug Administration was given the power to order recalls of unsafe foods for the first time in history!
The CDC (Center for Disease Control) estimated that 48 million people – or one in six Americans – are sickened every year by a foodborne illness. Of that, 180,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die. Erik Olson, a director of food and consumer safety programs for the Pew Health Group, said the health care costs associated with an outbreak of contaminated food alone run into the tens of billions of dollars – far beyond what it would cost to put the law’s new requirements into place. Large food companies supported the bill thinking safe food was good business. My favorite part of the bill was “Impose new safety regulations on producers of the highest-risk fruits and vegetables”. I think Monsanto’s GMO grown fruits and vegetables would be covered under this law.
In January of this year, the White House Office of Management and Budgets (OMB) stripped most of the power from this bill after reviewing the bill for the regulations’ impact on corporate business. Gee, I wonder if GMO-giant Monsanto was involved in any of these reviews what with so many of Monsanto former employees now working for the White House?
The original law required food producers to design, implement, and test risk-based food safety plans for the first time ever. It also required testing for contamination in food processing facilities, and then testing the foods themselves. With the current OMB changes these mandatory procedures will become voluntary testing. So let’s see…safe food for consumers through voluntary testing (and greater expenses) or more profit for the company and shareholders…I’m sure the large food companies will choose consumer safety wouldn’t you think?
In case you wondered why you never heard about the new voluntary protocols, they were published in Food And Chemical News which is available by subscription only for a mere $2,995! These changes to the law would have been kept secret if someone with a conscience in the Department of Health and Human Resources (parent to FDA) hadn’t posted the documents to a government website.
Do you remember the Jack in the Box e coli outbreak in 1993 that killed 4 children, the listeria outbreak in 1998 that killed 21 people or the 2011 outbreak of listeria from tainted cantaloupe stored in unsanitary conditions at a Colorado farm? Those numbers don’t even address those sickened or hospitalized! And that was the food industry regulating its’ own safety requirements!
Fortunately the changes the OMB has made to our Food safety laws are in the comment period until mid-May. If the health and safety of yourself and family is important and you want to do something then speak up! You can follow this link to the government website and click on “comments” on the upper right of the page…all comments are reviewed!