By James J. Gormley
Here at Citizens for Health (CFH) we’ve been working diligently to keep you updated on all of the latest developments in policy and legislation affecting your health freedoms. One example is S. 510, The Food Safety Modernization Act, which is a flawed effort to improve the government’s system for ensuring the safety of our food supply.
CFH strongly supports food safety, however S. 510 would ultimately make our food less safe, not more. In addition, the bill would do so at the expense of health food retailers, manufacturers, and consumers of natural foods.
While S. 510 has undergone some revisions along the way it still falls far short of what we consider acceptable. And, given that our information suggests it could come up for a vote shortly after Labor Day, there isn’t sufficient time to ensure that the bill is overhauled before a vote comes up.
That is why we need you to send a message to your Senators today using the form at the bottom of this linked page.
Among our concerns:
1) What the bill says: If the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) believes that there is a reasonable probability that the use of or exposure to an article of food (and any other article of food that the Secretary reasonably believes is likely to be affected in a similar manner) will cause serious health consequences, then the source would have to give HHS agents access to all of its records.
Our concerns: Simply believing there’s a potential hazard isn’t enough – there should be proof before HHS intrudes upon the livelihood of our health food manufacturers. Taking it a step further: What constitutes “reasonable,” and by whom is it determined? There needs to be evidence, and it needs to be clear and definitive.
2) What the bill says: It mandates use of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) as a means of identifying sources of contamination.
Our concern: HACCP is a risk-based algorithmic approach to food safety that allows many shortcuts and involves a monumental amount of expensive paperwork and record-keeping with NO improvements in on-site, physical inspections.
3) What the bill says: If the Secretary determines…that there is a reasonable probability that an article of food is adulterated or misbranded…the Secretary shall provide the responsible party an opportunity to cease distribution and recall such an article.
Our concern: Similar to #1 above, what level of evidence will constitute “reasonable” probability? In addition, the words “adulterated” and “misbranded” have been applied by the FDA so liberally over the years that they’ve become watered down as descriptors of contamination.
And, lastly, the biggest problem of all with S. 510:
4) What the bill says: “Nothing in this Act shall be construed in a manner inconsistent with the agreement establishing the World Trade Organization or any other treaty or international agreement to which the U.S. is a party.”
Our concern: No other countries ensure that all of their internal regulations are consistent with WTO or any other treaty or international agreement – so why should the United States sacrifice its sovereignty? As if that wasn’t reason enough, we all share the concern about what might happen to the affordability of – and especially our access to – the products and services we choose to maintain our health and wellness if the United States was required to harmonize with the WTO, SPS, the Uruguay Rounds, and Codex!
In an interview here’s what health-freedom attorney Jonathan Emord said about what’s wrong with S. 510:
“The major problem with the bill is that it fails to recognize, let alone protect against, abuses that are common in the inspection process. Moreover, it creates a financial incentive for FDA to perform repeat inspections of facilities as a revenue-raising measure or as a means to penalize financially a company disfavored by the agency. The notion that expanding FDA inspection authority will somehow arrest instances of adulteration is absurd. FDA inspects after complaints are made, not before, and FDA inspections are rarely the means by which the market acts to protect consumers from harm. Most often the company itself acts to reduce the risk of product liability, and the media seizes upon the information and broadcasts it widely. At a time when the nation can ill afford imposition of yet another tax on companies that make essential products, this Congress in its ‘infinite wisdom’ is doing precisely that. S. 510 is a bad idea that will not work to stop adulteration but will enable the FDA to abuse its power and may well drive some good firms out of existence.”
The bottom line: If the above problems and deficiencies are not fixed or eliminated immediately from S. 510, then it must not pass. It gives the HHS/FDA almost limitless authority since it would allow the fox to guard the henhouse. What constitutes reasonable belief and reasonable probability will be moving targets, moved up or down by the FDA at will. By further pushing the risky HAACP algorithmic approach to food safety down industry’s throat, consumers will be less safe since there will a greater reliance on mathematical and statistical hazards models and less reliance on physical, on-site inspections. Furthermore, the sovereignty of U.S. law and regulation will be further undermined and compromised by referencing international standards and bodies in internal U.S. statutes.