Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Food Stalinization Act of 2010 has passed the Senate

Here's the Wall Street Journal on the most blatant "screw the consumer in favor of the producer" act since the Toy Safety Act.  It was almost held up because of a technical/parliamentary error, but too many Benjamins were at stake: 

The Senate waved through the largest expansion of food regulation since FDR on Tuesday, 73 to 25, and maybe the bill won the votes of 13 Republicans because there was hardly any public controversy. These days, the government needs to take over entire industries to get anyone to notice.

Not that this bill in the name of food safety isn't a down payment. The Food and Drug Administration will gain new powers over the 2.2 million farms and 28,000 food producers in America—including federal standards for agricultural practices and food processing, transportation and storage—as well as the authority to mandate nationwide recalls.

High-publicity outbreaks like salmonella in eggs or E. coli in spinach have obscured the reality that food-borne illnesses have fallen by nearly one-third over the last decade—largely because businesses have every incentive to police themselves. Meanwhile, Congress's increasing demands on the FDA—it regulates about 25 cents out of every dollar spent in the economy—mean that the agency does nothing well. When the FDA mistakenly fingered tomatoes as the source of 1,300 illnesses in 2008, the tomato industry suffered $100 million in losses. The real culprit was tainted jalapenos.

Not surprisingly, this bill's main critics have been the small farms and local and organic food outfits that don't have the profit margins to comply with new regulatory burdens like the "risk-based preventative controls" that the FDA will soon enforce. The House version applies even to farmers markets and roadside stands. Naturally, agribusiness and the processed food industry (and their legal departments) couldn't be happier, and it's not the first time big business has leveraged government to weigh down smaller competitors.

I bet the champagne corks are popping at Monsanto today.  The picture of all the screws came from hereGo here to see a list of the Republicans who need to be primaried ASAP. 


Harper said...

For 50 years, IHOP brought warm syrup to every table that ordered pancakes. The syrup containers were kept in a bath of hot water and (were supposed to have been) emptied and cleaned at regular intervals each day.

One location in Amarillo had a salmonella outbreak that originated in the syrup water bath. The confirmed number of people who were sickened by contact is somewhere around 12, though every employee was tested and some were found to be asymptomatic carriers.

12 people with mild gastrointestinal symptoms out of 1,843 restaurants that served warm syrup for 50 years.

Now, warm syrup is available only upon request, served in a plastic, disposable ramekin that has been heated in a microwave. IHOP now has hand washing timers that go off every thirty minutes to remind employees to wash their hands. Alarms sound every 2 hours to remind them to change their sanitizing bucket water.

Overreaction or protecting the populace?

Depending on your answer, I may or may not have a drop side crib that I will donate to the charity of your choice.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

I'll go with overreacting.
Watching the nannies increase in power and number has become a hobby of mine. Customers can't get an ankle sprain without someone wanting to set up a new regulatory agency.