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Food safety concerns of the Bill Plant

27 March 2009 1,044 views No Comment

The FSA would work to prevent food-borne illness, ensure the safety of food, improve research on contaminants leading to food-borne illness, and improve security of food from intentional contamination, according to the bill.

The FSA would regulate food safety and labeling and how establishments process, store, hold and transport food, it states.

U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts, the Republican who represents Lancaster County, would oppose the bill as it is currently written, said spokesman Andrew Cole.

“If the bill passed, it would be put in the lap of the Food and Drug Administration and there probably would be a lot of push back from rural people from both sides of the aisle,” Cole said. “The FDA has more than they can handle trying to regulate drugs. It would be a mistake for the FDA to regulate all the food produced in the country.”

The recession is leading many Americans to start backyard gardens to try to squeeze pennies out of their food budget.

But some people worry a food safety bill introduced recently in Congress will impose unwanted federal regulation on such gardens, and small farms as well.

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) introduced the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 last month.

H.R. 875 has so far only been referred to the House Agriculture Committee, an early step in the legislative process, but it has 39 co-sponsors.

The bill calls for the creation of a Food Safety Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services to protect public health because “the food safety program at the Food and Drug Administration is not effective in controlling hazards in food coming from farms and factories in the United States and food and food ingredients coming from foreign countries.”

Cole said the bill would require, among other things, that the FDA establish minimum standards regulating the use of natural fertilizer, or manure, to help grow food.

The proposed bill comes at the same time industry surveys show double-digit growth in the number of home gardeners expected this year. Mail-order companies report such a tremendous demand that some have run out of seeds for basic vegetables such as onions, tomatoes and peppers.

The bill isn’t clear on which growers would be regulated and which ones wouldn’t, Cole said. Still, gardeners shouldn’t worry too much about Big Brother.

“Chances are the FDA is not going to show up at your house and put you in jail for having a garden in your backyard,” he said.

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