Sunday, May 06, 2007

Safe Food Act 2007, Imports

Had the Safe Food Act been passed and implemented in 2005, foods intended for human consumption (which ultimately includes pet food ingredients since it appears to be an acceptable practice to sell same to livestock farms1) which contained industrial chemicals such as melamine would never have been imported. They would have failed to pass inspection in China.

From Title II, Section 208 of the yet-to-be-passed Safe Food Act 2007:
(b) "A foreign government or foreign food establishment requesting a certification to import food to the United States shall demonstrate ... that food ... has met standards for food safety, inspection, labeling, and consumer protection that are at least equivalent to standards applicable to food produced in the United States."

(c, 2) "Prior to granting the certification, the Administrator shall certify, based on an onsite inspection, the food programs and procedures of a requesting foreign firm as at least equivalent to the food safety programs and procedures of the United States."

(g) "The Administrator shall routinely inspect food and food animals (via a physical examination) before it enters the United States to ensure that it is safe."

While the FDA, USDA, and EPA are scrambling trying to find and contain contaminated foods, and assessing whether these foods pose a threat to human health if eaten, millions of shipments of uninspected foods continue to arrive and be distributed.

From the NYTs May 1 article Food Imports Often Escape Scrutiny (Thank you, Melinda.):

In 2006, "an estimated 9.1 million" shipments of food arrived in the US."

"The FDA, which is responsible for monitoring 80% of the country’s food, inspects barely 1% of the food shipments arriving annually at hundreds of ports throughout the country." And that percentage of inspections is declining:

Some former Health and Human Services (HHS) officials see it like this:
"The public thinks the food supply is much more protected than it is," said William Hubbard, a former associate commissioner who left in 2005 after 27 years at [the FDA]. "If people really knew how weak the FDA program is, they would be shocked."

"Tommy G. Thompson, the former secretary of HHS, expressed deep concern about the nation’s food supply when he resigned, for unrelated reasons, in December 2004:
For the life of me I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do." ... He said he worried “every single night” about threats to the food supply."

"The word is out," Hubbard said. "If you send a problem shipment to the United States it is going to get in and you won’t get caught, and you won’t have your food returned to you, let alone get arrested or imprisoned."
- Food Imports Often Escape Scrutiny
More stringent import standards exist. They are not law today because our lawmakers chose otherwise.

Pets didn't have to die. Livestock did not have to be sacrificed. Human food did not have to be contaminated. It's not OK. Support the Safe Food Act 2007.
1 "Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, D-Connecticut, the chairwoman of the House Appropriations' agriculture subcommittee and co-chairwoman of the Congressional Food Safety Caucus, said the link between the tainted pet food and chicken feed "highlights the egregious holes in our food safety system."
Officials Order 20 Million Chickens Held From Market

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