S.510 The Food Safety Modernization Act
Bill in full: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:s510rs.txt.pdf
After hearing some very bizarre statements of what is in this bill, I decided to read it. Come to find out, those off-the-wall claims have proven to be true. Here is a summary of what I have found.
First of all, this bill reinstates the power to the FDA (and other agencies) to shut down facilities and/or suspend production that “poses a public health risk.” I am all for shutting down food producers like Jack DeCoster whose claim to fame was that huge egg recall this past summer. This guy is up to his usual tricks, as another recall for his eggs was issued last month. Still, S.510 goes above and beyond anything reasonable.
*Requires the owner/operator/agent in charge of a facility to evaluate all the hazards that could effect food, including but not limited to: ‘‘(A) biological, chemical, physical, and radiological hazards, natural toxins, pesticides, drug residues, decomposition, parasites, allergens, and unapproved food and color additives; and ‘‘(B) hazards that occur naturally, may be unintentionally introduced, or may be intentionally introduced, including by acts of terrorism;”
Once these hazards are identified, the business must implement preventative controls and monitor the performance of dealing with those controls. Detailed and maintained records must be made available to the Secretary of Agriculture upon written request. This is the tip of a paperwork iceberg. For example: Also requires written plans and procedures in regards to sanitary conditions, packaging, pathogen controls, recall plans, supplier verifications, etc.
*A frequent and recurring theme throughout this legislation is the creation of new rules and regulations to be made in the future. Basically it gives the FDA, Secretary of Agriculture, Homeland Security, other agencies the ability to write the rules as they go along. Only on rare occasion does it mention Congressional input.
*Strict regulations on the growing, harvesting, packing, shipping, storage, distribution, etc., of fresh fruits and vegetables. (Details not yet determined)
Fresh fruits and vegetables are specifically mentioned throughout the bill. So much so, it made me wonder if they’ve declared a covert war on them.
*Pages 151-160 discusses fees domestic businesses will pay for this regulation. Including but not limited to, inspection related expenses, re-inspections, recall expenses, report filing expenses. Total fees to be collected are capped at 25 million with yearly adjustments tied to the CPI.
*Since this section will be totally unbelievable to some, it’s been copied from page 161-162, Sec. 108 exactly as written:
(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Agriculture, in coordination with the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall prepare and submit to the relevant committees of Congress, and make publicly available on the Internet Web sites of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture, the National Agriculture and Food Defense Strategy.
Yes, that said HOMELAND SECURITY.
This includes implementation, preparedness, detection, emergency response, recovery, infrastructure protection and a slew of other things. They say the devil is in the details and unfortunately, all the details are to be approved later. If porno-scanners and groping are any indication of how HS does business………
*The bottom of page 167 creates a public/private partnership with Homeland Security (HS). If past performance of public/private partnerships is any indication of future performance, it would be safe to assume the little guy will be sorely left out of the debate.
*Creates a “food police” (my term) from the Federal levels on down to State, County and muni. Calls for food defense capabilities including progress implementing strategies.
*Calls for a voluntary program for grammar schools on food allergy education and response. Federal funding is capped at 50k per year, for two years. After that, federal money ends. The amount of funding will be determined by how many children per school have food issues/allergies.
*Inspections. High risk facilities are to be inspected at least once every two years.
Non high-risk facilities are to be inspected at least once every four years.
*Creates rules, regulations, and accreditations for food testing laboratories.
*Creates a traceback program for raw and processed food. This entails more paperwork across the entire food processing chain to be submitted to the authorities. When dealing with foreign food suppliers, international food treaties/agreements supersede all else.
*Page 202-205 creates a “Foodborne Illness Surveillance System”. Again, from the Federal level down to the muni level. Working groups, councils and agencies will have 1 year to formulate these regulations. To be included:
(A) staffing levels and expertise available to perform food safety and defense functions;
(B) laboratory capacity to support surveillance, outbreak response, inspection, and enforcement activities;
(C) information systems to support data management and sharing of food safety and defense information among State and local agencies and with counterparts at the Federal level; and
(D) other State and local activities and needs as determined appropriate by the Secretary [of Agriculture].
*The government has the authority of mandatory recall.
*Starting on page 229, this bill goes into great detail on the regulation of foreign food. From inspections to testing labs, certification, documentation, smuggling. Increasing regulatory capacity of foreign governments, data sharing, training, harmonization of requirements…..well you get the idea.
Despite the very detailed and involved regulations on foreign food growers, manufacturers, shippers et al, on page 265 it reads:
“SEC. 404. COMPLIANCE WITH INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS.
Nothing in this Act (or an amendment made by this Act) shall be construed in a manner inconsistent with the agreement establishing the World Trade Organization or any other treaty or international agreement to which the United States is a party. “
In other words, the US can regulate all it wants, but the WTO has the final say.
*Authorizes 825,000,000 to pay 3,800 new staff for fiscal year 2010 alone. Does not include HS in the list of agencies that will be hiring. It also lists numbers of added staff into year 2014.
*From my interpretation of this bill, and the broad way they define “importer” it would seem travelers coming into the US from foreign countries may no longer be allowed any type of food items.
*This bill seems to include the home gardener who sells veggies to their neighbors as part of the “foodborne illness” problem.
*According to Senator Harkin, this bill has 90 votes in hand to pass as is.
There are other things in this bill I have left out of this summary for the sake of brevity. Transportation, employee rights, issues on smuggling….Despite the omissions, I hope this summary of S.510 has been helpful.
Your new food: Approved by Homeland Security. Brought to you by Monsanto and Con Agra because they’re powerful enough to withstand the regulatory storm coming. Getting a say in it all doesn’t hurt much either.