Losing Our Ever-Loving Minds in the Name of Safety
Proposals for new Food Safety Adminstration lack even a hint of reason.
Published on: March 18, 2009
I had a bad feeling when I first heard the demand for congressional hearings on salmonella in peanuts. It just stands to reason that if you tell a bunch of politicians to fix something they are going to come up with a laundry list of regulations, a few sound bites for every PAC that provided them campaign funds and a basket or two of self-serving agencies and appointments.
I thought about all of us placidly standing in line at the airport with our shoes off, our personal hygiene products in 3-ounce bottles, zipped up in quart-sized freezer bags, our laptops open to inspection, all in the name of preventing a terrorist attack in the air. Can anybody tell me, which of the above brought down the twin towers?
Now, I wondered, what will be asked to do to create the illusion that every bite of every thing we put in mouths is guaranteed safe?
Well, Ms. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticutt and her co-sponsors (so far, mercifully none from Kansas) have created quite a solution in HR Bill 785, introduced last week.
This bill may well achieve recognition as among the most ignorant ever introduced; ignorant of the people it affects, ignorant of the industry it proposes to regulate, ignorant of the system already in place, ignorant of the inter-relationship of people and products and ignorant even of human nature.
It proposes to define "food" as any product, or component of a product, intended for human or animal consumption and a "food production facility" as every farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility or confined animal feeding operation in America.
Whew! Orchard, vineyard and CAFO in the same sentence.
But I especially noted Sec. 206 which talked about the power of the "administrator" to regulate such food production facilities, by inspecting records that would let him "determine whether the food is contaminated, adulterated or otherwise not in compliance" with the rules AND "track the food in commerce."
Which records might those be? What record-keeping would provide this information? Think about the labor service temp employee working today packaging lettuce on a small farm in California and tomorrow picking tomatoes in Arizona and next week processing peaches in Washington. Is he going to log "got away with massive diarrhea poop and not washing my hands" in a book somewhere that the "adminstrator" can "inspect" three months later when an E. coli outbreak is traced to "somewhere in the western U.S?"
Oh, wait. The "administrator" is also going to "track the food in commerce."
How? We've been arguing about COUNTRY of origin labeling for more than five years. We're going to get to FARM of origin labeling in how long? And then to EMPLOYEE OF HANDLING labeling at what point?
And then how many safety cops do we need? One for each person who touches food on every farm, in every processing plant, in very packaging facility, in every grocery store, in every restaurant -- and for perfect safety, in every home, in America?
And once we have them, what happened to America?