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H.R. 2749 Food Safety Enhancement Act

by Sue Browning

Article from

H.R. 2749, submitted by Rep. John Dingell says its purpose is to, “To amend Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to improve the safety of food in the global market, and for other purposes.”

Careful reading of the bill reveals that its real mission is to greatly increase FDA regulatory powers over the national food supply and food providers by granting the FDA authority to:

  • Regulate how crops are raised
  • Regulate the harvest of those crops
  • Quarantine a geographic area
  • Establish a national food tracing system
  • Establish carbon monoxide as a safe food additive for use in coloring meat
  • Make warrantless searches of business records

This bill is an enhancement of H.R. 759 and H.R. 857, previously proposed food regulation bills in the 111th Congress, and co-sponsored primarily by the same representatives.

H.R. 2749 calls for an annual registration fee of $1,000 and gives the FDA the power to adjust the fee each year. No cap is stated for the fee, nor is there any language to limit the amount the fee could be raised from year to year. This bill exempts from control the small number of producers where food is produced on the farm and sold directly to a consumer or restaurant by the farmer or agent.

Perhaps the most disturbing language in this bill is in Section 106, Access to Records. This section gives the FDA the right to conduct warrantless searches of business records. Warrantless searches are specifically prohibited by the U.S. Constitution.

U.S. Constitution. Amendment IV says, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

The Access to Records language in Section 106 does mention,”at reasonable times and within reasonable limits and in a reasonable manner.” However, this bill fails to outline who gets to determine reasonable.

H.R. 2749 also call for the establishment of a Tracing System for Food. The system will regulate every person who produces, manufactures, processes, packs, transports, or holds related food. Each producer will be required to:

  • Maintain the full pedigree of the origin and previous distribution history of the food
  • Link that history with the subsequent distribution history of the food
  • Establish and maintain a system for tracing the food that is interoperable with the systems established and maintained by other such persons
  • Use a unique identifier for each facility owned or operated

The FDA will be required to hold only two (2) public meeting in the United States for the purpose of gathering public comment. Also, the FDA will be required to conduct only one (1) pilot project to explore and evaluate tracing systems for food. The miniscule amount of public comment to be gathered concerning this bill suggests that the sponsors of the bill are unconcerned with the effect this legislatoon has on American consumers and food producers. With monumental legislation requiring time-consuming recording keeping and large producer cost increases the will get passed onto conumers, conducting public hearings and pilot projects in all 50 states would be the prudent and responsible thing to do.

Last, this legislation makes carbon monoxide a safe, legal substance for use in keeping meat looking fresher, longer. Carbon monoxide is a toxic substance which occurs when a stove or other internal combustion device is operated in an enclosed space. Carbon monoxide poisoning is the most common type of fatal poisoning in many countries. Its use as food additive is banned in many places, including Canada, Japan, Singpore, and the European Union.

For more information: Money And Politics: Illuminating the Connection Read the full text of legislation, view public comments and add your own Center for Responsive Politics

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