Don't let Congress Contaminate Food Safety Laws
News that more than 100 people have fallen ill from fresh spinach contaminated with E. coli bacteria highlights the need for the government to do MORE to protect the safety of our food. But Congress is heading in the opposite direction by proposing to do away with many of the state laws and regulations that protect the safety of our food.
On July 27, the U.S. Senate held a hearing on the "Uniformity for Food Act," a bill that will put a strait jacket on states' ability to keep milk, seafood and most other food safe for the consumer. The bill nullifies many state food safety or labeling laws that are not "identical" to federal law, including state laws that deal with problems the federal government doesn't even address.
The Food Uniformity Act would wipe out more than 200 laws in all 50 states, many of which have HIGHER safety standards than those outlined in the Food Uniformity Act!
Fortunately, the bill still isn't law. Although it passed the House in March, we have a good chance of defeating it in the Senate. With ever-growing opposition, (including 21 Senators, 39 state Attorney Generals, the Association of Food and Drug Officials, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, several governors, and a host of consumer, public health, and environmental groups) this bill can be defeated.
Urge your Senators to oppose the Food Uniformity Act!
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In the wake of the recent announcement that over 100 people fell ill from spinach contaminated with E. coli bacteria, Congress should pass laws to give us more protections. Unfortunately, this legislation would take us in the opposite direction.
Despite claims by its supporters to the contrary, the Food Uniformity bill does nothing to improve or extend food safety and labeling, and gives no new powers or funding to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Rather, it wipes out state food laws and regulations, even in areas where no federal standards exist. It also makes it very unlikely that states would pass laws in the future to deal with new threats to the safety of our food.
Over 200 laws in all 50 states would be eliminated by this bill--among them laws that insure that milk is not contaminated by drugs or bacteria, that assure seafood is safe, that provide sports fisherman with warnings about mercury and PCBs in local waters, and that require alerts about allergens in food. While states could appeal these nullifications to the FDA, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that a serious review would cost this already financially strapped agency $100 million, and this doesn't even include the costs of these appeals to the states.
Many organizations including Consumers Union, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, as well as 39 state attorneys general, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and the National Council of State Legislators have gone on record against this poorly conceived legislation.
Please oppose this bill.