Friday, June 29, 2007

Safe Food Act 2007, Representative Feedback

First, an unsafe food&drug round-up:

Medicinal Seafood:
FDA Detains Imports of Farm-Raised Chinese Seafood, Products Have Repeatedly Contained Potentially Harmful Residues

Veggie Chips - No Booty For You:
FDA Warns Consumers Not to Eat Veggie Booty Snack Food, Risk of Salmonella Contamination

Dual-Acting Toothpaste:
Wider Sale Is Seen for Toothpaste Tainted in China
FDA Advises Consumers to Avoid Toothpaste From China Containing Harmful Chemical (Lists the brands to avoid)

The Safe Food Act 2007 that I've been trumpeting calls for increased inspections, both domestic and foreign. These inspections, had they been implemented, might have delivered us from the above hazards.

Back in the middle of May, I wrote a letter to my Congressman in the House, to my two Senators, and to the President regarding the Safe Food Act of 2007 (S. 654 and H.R. 1148).

About a month later, I received a response from one Senator. This was in addition to his auto-reply. A clip:
"Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding recent food safety concerns. I appreciate hearing from all [state residents] about the issues that matter most to them.

In March of 2007, the presence of melamine, a chemical agent commonly used in the production of plastics, was detected in wheat and corn gluten as well as rice protein imported into the United States from China. These substances were then used in household pet food that caused the deaths of dozens of animals across the country. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that any melamine fed to livestock destined for the consumer food supply poses no threat to human health, this tragedy, along with other incidents such as the recent E. Coli outbreak in spinach grown in California, has prompted Congress to take action.

Consequently, I [endorse] S. 654, the Safe Food Act of 2007. This bill would create a new Food Safety Administration (FSA) and make it responsible for establishing a certification system for foreign nations seeking to import foods into the United States. This agency would also conduct oversight, allowing for a better flow of information between the existing food-monitoring governmental entities.

I will keep your views in mind as we continue to work on this important legislation.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about this or any other matter of importance to you."
Yesterday I received a response from my other Senator. A clip:
"Thank you for contacting my office regarding S. 654, the Safe Food Act of 2007. I appreciate your taking the time to bring your views on this important matter to my attention. As a United States Senator, it is essential that I be kept fully informed on the issues of concern to my constituents. Be assured that I will keep your thoughts on this legislation in mind when the Senate considers this or related issues during the 110 th Congress."
The President's office sent an auto-reply about 7.4 seconds after I hit "Send":
"On behalf of President Bush, thank you for your correspondence. We appreciate hearing your views and welcome your suggestions. Due to the large volume of e-mail received, the White House cannot respond to every message. Thank you again for taking the time to write."
Although the responses were cookie-cutter (the first one was nicely elaborative), I'm happy to get them... well, except for the President's. No one could have read my personal and painstaking letter in 7.4 seconds. My local Congressman has yet to respond, not even with an auto-reply "Thank you." or "Message received." I know he received it though since I was immediately added to his mailing list. I'm now reminded every few weeks of how important the issues that matter to me are to him, and how dedicated he is to "championing issues of concern to his constituents." He could do with a little PR assistance.

I also wrote to Hillary Clinton, but she replied that my time would be better spent writing to my own Senators:
"Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and concerns with me via e-mail. I hope you will understand that, because of the volume of e-mails I receive from residents of New York State, I cannot at this time respond to messages received from residents of other states. I encourage you to contact your U.S. senators if you have an issue or concern that needs immediate attention."
If you're a resident of New York state, if you've been following my posts on food safety, and if you agree with me that the Safe Food Act 2007 could help mitigate some problems caused by the current structure, I encourage you to write to your Senators, Ms. Clinton and Mr. Schumer. They are two of only 4 Senators (Durbin (IL) and Casey (PA) are the other two) who think enough about food safety to be sponsoring this legislation, and who could help catapult it out of Committee.

I'm of the opinion that every little squeak helps.

No comments: