It took 73 years to finally pass updated laws designed to protect America’s food supply from lethal bacteria and the fraud, sloppiness, and mishandling of food processors.
The battle over the language was hard fought yet still effective. The demanded compromises wound up being acceptable to most and still protected the mom and pop farms.
President Obama signed it late Monday and many breathed an enormous sigh of relief. But they were probably people who haven’t been listening to what the incoming Republican power brokers have been saying about funding the new life-saving legislation.
“No,” pretty much sums up the opinions of the Republicans who will take over the House appropriations committee tomorrow.
They say we have the safest food system in the world. So there is no need to scrounge up the $1.4 billion it would take to hire all the inspectors and investigators, and equip and staff a network of laboratories able to capture and identify outbreaks of foodborne pathogens before the body count soared.
. “Congress is not going to add that to the FDA food budget any time soon. With the House Appropriation committee coming under the rule of the GOP, this is unlikely,” Dr. David Acheson, former Associate Commissioner of Food for the Food and Drug Agency told me last week.
Without the funding, Acheson said, “then it will not be possible to enforce any new regulations effectively which means that the public health impact of the new legislation will be compromised.”
The legislation demands several vital improvements.
Among the most surprising to many may be that the new act now gives the FDA the authority to order a mandatory recall of dangerous food. Government agencies can order recalls of defective hair driers, cribs and car seats but when it came to food confirmed to be contaminated with E. coli, salmonella or other killer pathogens, the most FDA could do was request that manufacturers pull the dangerous food off store shelves. Now they can order the food be removed.
In the past 30 days, there have been recalls of organic beef with E. coli, clover and sprouts with salmonella, ginger-bread houses with Staphylococcus, and lots of cheese laced with E. coli.
Acheson says that when fully implemented, the legislation will make the US food supply safer but it alone can’t be counted on to keep consumers safe.
“No legislation could do that. There is an expectation by some that the President’s signature will signal a reduction in both outbreaks and recalls and I don’t think either will happen,” said Acheson who has a lengthy history of conducting cutting-edge research on foodborne pathogens.
A longer version of this story can be found on AOL News.
This is also cross-posted thefoodwatchdog.com