So have you been following the great food safety legislation debate? (Specifically, HR 2749; see GovTrack.us.) My guess is probably not, because it’s darned hard to follow. I hope you nevertheless will let your lawmakers know that food safety is a big deal that they need to work on. Should they support this bill? Hmm. Tougher question.
The latest news is that the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed HR 2749 (New York Times), which has a few worthwhile provisions, such as authorizing the Food & Drug Administration to order recalls of tainted foods. On the other hand, the bill imposes $500 annual fees on food processors, which is dandy for a million-dollar (or more) operation, but not so great if you’re talking about small businesses like, say, Central Soyfoods or Sleepy Jean’s Confections.
And, if I understand correctly (and I don’t claim to, given the way these things go), organic growers and processors would get clobbered with even more paperwork than they do now. Again, that may be fine if you’re, say, Muir Glen, which is owned by General Mills. (For a wealth of graphic information on organic ownership, see Michigan State University professor Phil Howard’s site.) It may not be so good if you’re Wakarusa Valley Farm (whose web site seems to have regressed).
If you have time, read Tom Philpott’s report on Grist. And keep an eye on the news. This legislative sausage will go through the Senate grinder before anything becomes law, and at the rate it’s going it may be worth little if we don’t speak up. Lawmakers are coming “home” (have you ever noticed how few Kansas reps live in Kansas after they leave Congress?) shortly. Let them know what you think. Trust me, Big Food is making its view known.