Food safety bill, thought dead, passes unanimously
December 20th, 2010
03:15 PM ET
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Rumors of the Food Safety Modernization Act's demise proved premature. The Senate passed the Food Safety Bill, as amended by Senator Jon Tester, yesterday afternoon by unanimous consent.

The bill, designed to increase government inspections of the food supply in the wake of recent deadly foodborne disease outbreaks, originally passed with wide support in both chambers. However, it faced an uncertain future, requiring re-approval because it violated a Constitutional requirement that bills that raise revenue initiate in the House. On Friday, Senate leadership aides on both sides of the aisle said Republicans objected to giving it quick approval in the waning days of the congressional session.

The Senate voted on the slightly modified bill on Sunday and S.510 is now expected to receive a final vote in the House before the President signs it into law.


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Filed under: FDA • Food Politics • S. 510

soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Greetime

    CNN "Just Fell Off the Turnip Truck" with their posting of the above poultry farm picture. Since they won't allow me to post a picture of a "True Poultry" farm pictue, I will try to describe one to this audicence.(there is a poultry farm about a mile from my house, which, is like most of the commerical poultry farms in America)

    1. The barn is a metal building with no windows and the poultry "never" see the light of day.

    2. Every year about 10 billion farm animals go through America’s horrific factory farm system: cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, lamb. There, they are subjected to unimaginable and torturous confinement in vast factories where they never see the light of day. Agribusiness goes out of its way to make sure you don’t see the inside of those factory farms.

    Chickens are crammed into cages where they live one on top of the other without being able to spread their wings. Hens routinely have their beaks cut off so they don’t peck each other to death.

    In posting a "false" picture to their audience(which gives them the idea of what a poultry farm should look like) CNN has "Fell Off the Turnip Truck" and shipwrecked journalism.

    December 21, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
    • Valerie

      I was just about to comment on that picture to say that is one utopia of a chicken farm compared to most of them. And CNN is using it for all articles relating to these bills.

      December 22, 2010 at 6:27 am |
  2. PharmGuy

    Too much power in the hands of a bureaucracy without adequate controls and oversight to curb their abuse of power. My company is closed down right now by FDA, and they are incorrect about the scientific issues which led them to conclude we should be closed. We have little recourse to fight them, and even after sending scientific data to prove our point they simply disregarded this factual evidence and proceeded with their agenda. I agree we need FDA to protect the public, but they need a better oversight system to police themselves to guard against ego or career advancing abuse of power (the way to get promoted is to shut down 'dangerous' companies). Freedom to recall food without clear standards of proof will end up costing the public more and more.

    December 21, 2010 at 8:24 am |
    • Joe

      I work for a site that is FDA, USDA, and ISO regulated. The rules exist to make sure that quality is maintained. Of those three organizations, the FDA's are not the most stringent and difficult to deal with. If your facility is closed, I find it hard to believe it is something frivolous. There really is no incentive for FDA regulators and auditors to "shut down" a company. There job is to find problems, so they poke and prod until they do. Even the most successful companies have inefficient processes that need fixing on a regular basis.

      December 21, 2010 at 9:22 am |
  3. Augie

    50 FDA and USDA busts on small farm and food businesses are here

    December 21, 2010 at 8:22 am |
  4. Andy

    Yay common sense!


    December 21, 2010 at 5:38 am |
  5. Greetime


    For your consideration

    1. FDA to require all food processors to label products that have bioengineered food contained in it . Something simple like "GMO Grown"

    2. It would give the consumer more choice, and confidence in the product.

    3. It would also add a tracablity back to the source if an outbreak would occur.

    4. It would also give a good cursive study for long range effects on human consumtion.

    December 21, 2010 at 3:23 am |
  6. Geodin

    @kora and Ray. Please provide quotes or example from the bill to support your claims.

    December 20, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
  7. Frank

    Cut back on meat and dairy. Eat more grains, beans, fruits and vegetables:

    December 20, 2010 at 4:49 pm |
    • Charlotte

      Frank – in theory your post is simply good nutritional sense, Americans eat way too much meat and dairy. That having been said, a lot of the recent food problems have centered around produce, the egg debacle notwithstanding. E-coli in Spinach, Salmonella in tomatoes, tainted peppers.....avoiding meat and dairy is not going to address these problems.

      December 20, 2010 at 8:06 pm |
      • Oldstyle00

        Charlotte how do you figure Americans eat to much meat? I would argue we eat to much refined sugar and simple carbs also add in there the high sodium. Meat is not a bad thing.

        December 20, 2010 at 11:23 pm |
  8. La Deborah

    Thought you would like this.

    December 20, 2010 at 4:37 pm |
  9. kora

    The FDA needs to disappear and this bill was never to intent to do any good for the people.

    December 20, 2010 at 4:20 pm |
    • Ray

      You are absolutely correct on both comments. Our food supply will be safe for human consumption when it is taken out of the hands of large corporations. Best food safety measure, family farms eating the same stuff they offer up to the public. Now with this bill, the FDA doesn't even need proof the food is unsafe. It just has to declare that it might be. This is very bad. Very, very bad.

      December 20, 2010 at 4:31 pm |
    • The_Mick

      So you think it does "no good for the people" to require: 1) a source-tracing plan so we'll no longer be lost when there's a salmonella, etc. outbreak occurs, 2) that importers have to require imported food to meet U.S. standards, 3) the FDA can demand a recall if a company doesn't for bad food, or 4) that large companies have to have an emergency plan for bad food recalls? Addtionally, that amendment Tester put in lets farmers with sales of less than $500,000/year who sell all within their state or a 275 mile radius be exempt so it's not going to drive up costs for the little guy or us.

      December 20, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
      • matt

        that number is not adjusted for inflation and there are several midsize farmers who will be affected..500k per year is not that much. Common sense says food prices will go up. When has legislation ever kept prices the same for anything?

        December 20, 2010 at 8:44 pm |
    • DennisF


      While I was at the Indiana State Fair this summer I went into an interseting exhibit. It was an exhibit of an old drug store, and what was very interesting were the examples of the 'snake oils' and other things that used to be sold in drug stores in America prior to the passing of the 'Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906'.

      Prior to the passage and implementation of that act, the rule in the marketplace was purely 'caveat emptor', and the results were completely predictable. Many people died because of the poisons that were found in over the counter medicines. Many more were either sickened or killed by tainted meats.

      You are now able to go to your local drugstore or grocery store and get foods and medicines that are orders of magnitude safer than they ever were prior to the passage of that act in 1906. In your case, if you would rather buy your food and drugs over the internet from somewhere that could not care less about that act....feel free. Its your life...go ahead.

      I think I speak for the overwhelming majority in this country though when I say, 'Thank You' to those who worked so hard to get that 1906 Act passed to become the law of the land. We are healthier and safer because of it and food safety laws that have followed. The FDA is a very good thing whether you think it is or not.

      December 20, 2010 at 7:28 pm |
      • nepawoods

        Let's just say that the government can do a better job of deciding what people should consume, be it food or medicine, than 99% of the people. Why should the 1% who know better than the government be restricted because of the 99% who don't?

        December 21, 2010 at 7:27 am |
    • vet4life63

      April 28, 2010

      “They came in the dark, shining bright flashlights while my family was asleep, keeping me from milking my cows, from my family, from breakfast with my family and from our morning devotions, and alarming my children enough so that the first question they asked my wife was, ‘Is Daddy going to jail?’”

      That’s how Amish farmer Dan Allgyer described an early morning visit last week from two FDA agents, two U.S. Marshals, and a Pennsylvania state trooper. Apparently, investigating a single farmer for possibly trafficking raw milk across state lines requires a show of force.

      “I became aware of the cars as soon as I walked out on the sidewalk as part of my morning routine around 4:30 a.m. and immediately said to myself something is going on,” Allgyer wrote in a statement for the National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association. “I was watching and noticed three cars were cruising down right behind each other, and immediately thought, hey, that looks like trouble. I watched and pretty soon one car came back and parked on my neighbor’s farm, on private property.”

      After tooling around, the cars showed up Allgyer’s property. “They all got out of their vehicles – five men all together–with big bright flashlights they were shining all around. My wife and family were still asleep. When they couldn’t find anybody, they prepared to knock on the door of my darkened house. Just before they got to the house I stepped out of the barn and hollered at them, then they came up to me and introduced themselves.”

      Without telling him what is was, one of the agents handed Allgyer an FDA warrant that allowed the agents to inspect Allgyer’s farm. The warrant read: “You are authorized to take all necessary actions, including, but not limited to, the use of reasonable force, to effectuate entry to the above-named premises, the land and buildings located there, at reasonable times during ordinary business hours and to remain thereon to inspect within reasonable limits and in a reasonable manner all portions” of Allgyer’s farm.

      Allgyer isn’t the criminal that the FDA is making him out to be. “When Americans first began pasteurizing milk at the turn of the last century, testing was rudimentary and farms were far less hygienic,” Katherine Mangu-Ward wrote in February, the first time inspectors showed up to raid Allgyer’s farm. “Today, the situation is different. Testing for the presence of such pathogens is much more precise, and farms are far cleaner. While processing milk remains a good choice for milk shipped to the population as a whole, there are a group of food rebels who would rather drink their milk straight from the cow.”

      When Allgyer asked why the agents wanted to inspect his farm, FDA investigator Joshua C. Shafer said, “We have credible evidence that you are involved in interstate commerce.”

      “I went to go talk to my wife,” Allgyer said in his statement. “As I walked away, they held a quick excited conversation and I heard one of them say, ‘I’ll take care of him.’ At that point, apparently, they had designated one of the marshals to stick close to me and dog my footsteps. He followed me as I walked toward the house. I went in the house quickly and told my wife a few words to let her know the situation, then immediately came back out of the house before the marshal had time to follow me in. When I came back out, they were inspecting all the coolers sitting out. They spent about a half hour digging through the packed coolers filled with milk and other food – all private property – taking pictures.”

      After watching the agents root through his barn, open his freezers, and dig through his dumpster, Allgyer set about milking the cows, hours behind schedule.

      “When I was just about done milking, Schafer and the other agent came in the barn and wanted me to answer some more questions. I told them I would not. The second agent said, ‘Are you gong to deliver those coolers to Bethesda and Bowie Maryland?’ I just looked at him. Then Schafer made a gesture and said, ‘The stickers with those towns names are on the coolers,’ as through to say, you might as well tell me.”

      Allgyer refused to say anything and the agents left. Several days later, Allgyer received a letter from the Food and Drug Administration that read, “An investigation by the u.s. Food and Drug Administration has determined that you are causing to be delivered into interstate commerce, selling, or otherwise distributing raw milk in final package form for human consumption.”

      The letter does not list the evidence against Allgyer, nor does it name specific violations. In fact, the letter from the FDA says exactly the opposite: “This letter is not intended to provide an all-inclusive list of violations.” Two paragraphs later, the letter instructs Allgyer to report within 15 days “the specific steps you have taken to correct the noted violations.”

      “Failure to make prompt corrections could result in regulatory action without further notice. Possible actions include seizure and injunction.

      Expect this to happen much more folks. The crime? Selling Unpasteurized (Natural) food, selling food without allowing the big corporations to get their cut, Selling food that is not adulterated with perservatives and chemicals. It doesn't take much to put a small farmer out of business. This ought to do it.

      December 20, 2010 at 8:35 pm |
    • Oldstyle00

      Exactly get rid of a regulatory agency thats been around for over 100 years making sure the milk you drink is actually milk and not cat piss with white food coloring. The FDA makes sure our food is safe whether you like government or not they need to be doing more inspections on these companies then once a year.

      December 20, 2010 at 11:17 pm |
      • Ray

        How exactly does the FDA make sure food is safe? The egg farm and the peanut butter processing plant that were the source of major food recalls this year were both sited for violations PRIOR to contaminated food reaching Americans. The FDA already had the power to make our food supply safe but chose to bend in the interest of corporate profits.

        You can not inspect safety into food no more than you can inspect quality into a product. While the rest of the world is rolling back anti-raw dairy laws and banning genetically modified food, we here in the U.S. are doing the complete opposite. At the same time our life expectancy rank continues to slide and our rate of diabetes, heart disease and obesity continue to climb. ALL UNDER THE WATCHFUL EYE OF THE FDA. THE GOVERNMENT AGENCY WHO'S MANDATE IS TO PROMOTE HEALTH AND WELL BEING OF AMERICANS. Yeah, let's trust them to do the right thing.

        December 21, 2010 at 9:39 am |
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