Patt Morrison for November 30, 2010

Food borne illness: $152 billion; a bill to fix it all: $300 billion; petty bickering in the Senate to pass the bill: priceless

Mercer 12366

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Rosa Antonez packages pasteurized eggs at the National Pasteurized Eggs (NPE) processing facility in Lansing, Illinois. The pasteurization process destroys viruses including Avian Influenza, also known as bird flu, and harmful bacteria including salmonella.

It passed through the U.S. House of Representatives with bipartisan support, but the FDA Food Safety Modernization bill ended up being stuck in the Senate for over a year before finally passing this morning. The bill gives the Food and Drug Administration the power to conduct wide tests for contamination and recall food that does turn out to be contaminated. It also requires more frequent inspections of large, food production plants, which are usually at higher risk of spreading illnesses. Imported foods will also be held to the same standards as those produced in the United States. Clean and safe sounds good, so why was there a hold up? Well, small farmers and producers feared that new regulations would be too expensive, while consumer groups feared that allowing any exemptions for smaller-scale producers might still threaten public health. An amendment was added to quell those fears, but then the likes of Glenn Beck and the Tea Party attacked the bill. So how soon will the FDA be able to implement the new regulations, and will there be a public outcry over something that seems to be beneficial?

Guests:

Erik Olson, director of Pew Health Group’s Food Programs

Ray Gilmer, vice president of communications for United Fresh Produce Association


blog comments powered by Disqus