Food Safety Legislation in the 111th Congress
This Wednesday (November 18, 2009), the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will be holding a hearing on S.510 "Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009". This follows the passage on the House side of HR 2749 "Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009" back in July.
We've tried to breakdown the important issues brought to the fore in both the House and Senate bills below. There may be terms that are unfamiliar to you and I encourage you to check out the Wallace Center's National Good Food Network's Food Safety FAQ Page for clarification. I am not a policy wonk, but I have given my best shot at providing you with information on this complicated issue.
It is crucial that the voice of small family farms be heard in this debate and I think the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's last talking point is where we need to shout the loudest:
Farmers who sell directly to consumers should not be required to keep records and be part of a federal "traceaback" system, and all other farms should not be required to maintain records electronically or any records beyond the first point of sale past the farmgate.
Here is a brief outline of where food safety legislation stands.
HR 2749 "Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009"
Passed by House of Representatives, July
- New on-farm produce safety standards
- Provision to permit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to update Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) standard in the next two years.
- A definition of a Food Facility:
- Farm that holds or packs food sourced from multiple farms or that process food and sell less than 50% of of the farm's products directly to consumers.
- Mandatory registration of a Food Facility required if meet the above definition.
- A flat annual fee of $500 for all Food Facilities
- New tracing system for all FDA-regulated foods (fruits and vegetables, dairy and egg products).
- Must keep records for the entire path of food item, from harvest to fianl sale to consumer.
- Food sold directly to consumers are exempt.
S. 510 "Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009"
Currently being considered by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.
- New on-farm produce safety standards for produce.
- Instructs FDA to update Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) standard in the next two years.
- No statutory revision to the Food Facilities definition.
- No fee
- New Traceability system- only for fresh fruits and vegetables
Must keep record of sales "One up, one down": who you bought it from, who you sold it to.
- Food sold directly to consumers are NOT exempt.
For more information on the Senate Food Safety bill, please click on this link: http://sustainableagriculture.net/take-action/ to download NSAC's Talking Points and its Policy Brief Food Safety on the Farm.
In this prior post is a call to action. There you will find information on contacting Senator Pat Roberts' office. Senator Roberts sits on the HELP Committee and he needs to hear that we Kansans, especially those of us who make our livelihood from growing fresh fruits and vegetables to feed other Kansans, cannot bear the costs associated with Food Facilities registration fees (HR 2749) nor complicated traceability requirements (S 510). Kansas grown produce sold by the farmer directly to the consumer should not be included in S 510.
I hope you will make this call today!