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News for June 2, 2010

Nannies and Bootleggers

We conservatives and libertarians enjoy railing against the Nanny State, but it's important to remember that the Nannies - the busybodies and bureaucrats - are often not the driving force behind these annoying infringements on our liberties. Often there's someone making money by regulating a competitor out of business.

Check out Reason TV's "Nanny of the Month" segment at the bottom of this post. The winning nannyism is a federal ban on intrastate shipment of raw milk. While some of the "rights" talk on the pro-raw milk side bugs me, it's outrageous that the government would restrict our ability to buy this product from people who want to sell it to us.

READ MORE (Washington Examiner) ]

'Dirty dozen' produce carries more pesticide residue, group says

If you're eating non-organic celery today, you may be ingesting 67 pesticides with it, according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group.

The group, a nonprofit focused on public health, scoured nearly 100,000 produce pesticide reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to determine what fruits and vegetables we eat have the highest, and lowest, amounts of chemical residue.

READ MORE (CNN) ]

Oregon's small-scale farms worry about sweeping food safety bill

The opening of farmers markets keeps small Oregon growers busy this time of year, picking, packing and selling their produce.

But rather than being focused on their fields, many are watching Washington, D.C., where they fear their fate could be sealed by a food safety bill.

READ MORE (Oregon Live) ]

Dirty, contaminated beef fed to children through school lunch programs

The USDA's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) recently issued a shocking report about the condition of the nation's industrial meat supply. It turns out that a lot of the U.S. meat supply is tainted with veterinary drugs, pesticides and heavy metals.

According to the report, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, or FSIS, continues to fail at properly monitoring the safety of the nation's meat supply. So tainted meat is regularly being approved for sale, much of which ends up in school lunch rooms where it is fed to -- guess who? -- our children!

READ MORE (Natural News) ]

Meat Industry Organization Voices E. Coli Legislation Opposition

New legislation introduced last week by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York would regulate six strains of the deadly E. coli pathogen that the U.S. Department of Agriculture currently does not monitor. The strain of E. coli most widely known is E. coli O157:H7, and this is the only strain the USDA tests for in food supplies. However, other strains of the harmful bacteria can severely sicken or kill food poisoning victims.

There are six primary strains that are known as "non-O157 STECs" (STEC stands for Shiga Toxin-producing E. Coli because the shiga toxin produced by these strains is what causes such severe illness.) These strains include: E. coli O26, E coli O103, Ecoli O111, E. coli O121, Ecoli O45, E coli O145. Recent outbreaks of E. coli O145 and O111 have brought attention to this issue, which is a problem that food safety advocates such as food safety lawyer Fred Pritzker have already been addressing. "Gillibrand's legislation is an important step to a safer food system," Pritzker said.

READ MORE (E Coli Information) ]

USDA completes tough new ground beef safety standards

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that USDA has completed tough new food safety standards for ground beef purchased by the Agricultural Marketing Service for federal food and nutrition assistance programs including school lunches.

In February, Vilsack announced a series of initiatives to improve the safety of food purchased for school lunch and nutrition assistance programs, and standards announced May 24 mark the completion of one of those initiatives.

READ MORE (Texas Farm Bureau) ]

A Raw Milk Deal: Farmer Faces 180 Days Jail and Could Lose the Farm and Family Food Ministry

A family who owns and operates a small farm and natural food ministry offers farm, fresh milk (raw) to their customers now face 180 days in jail and stand to lose their farm. It is called Bechard Family Farm and they raise turkeys, pork, beef, chickens, eggs and make soap. The Springfield-Greene County Health Department in Springfield, Missouri, says the Bechard teenage daughters sold their undercover agents two gallons of raw milk at one of the customer delivery points . The health department employees did not identity themselves. The father, Armand Bechard, who was not there at the time is being charged because he is the producer of the milk. Both the City and State are suing him.

Friday (June 4, 2010), the local trial is being held and many in Missouri and around the U.S. are watching. As many as 100 folks - perhaps many more - are showing up for the court and rally in support of the Bechards. There were 60 at the previous hearing as reported in the Journal back in March. The Alliance for Raw Milk Internationale (ARMi) and its Missouri ARMi division started a Fundraiser today to help with the mounting legal expenses. (Armand was badly injured last week when a car fell on him: he was under the car when the jack failed. He is expected to be in good enough shape to stand trial.)

READ MORE (Journal of Natural Food and Healing) ]

You Have "No Absolute Right to Consume ... Any Particular Food"

On April 26 2010, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) submitted its response to a lawsuit filed earlier this year by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF). The FTCLDF lawsuit claims that the federal regulations (21 CFR 1240.61 and 21 CFR 131.110) banning raw milk for human consumption in interstate commerce are unconstitutional and outside of FDA's statutory authority as applied to FTCLDF's members and the named individual plaintiffs in the suit. In its answer to the complaint, FDA made its position on the issue of 'freedom of food choice' a part of the public record. FTCLDF has until June 14 to file a reply to FDA's response.

The agency has long opposed 'freedom of food choice' but its response to the FTCLDF complaint represents FDA's strongest public statement yet on the freedom to obtain and consume the foods of one's choice.

READ MORE (Campaign for Liberty) ]

Congress: Treating Food Safety Like the BP Spill

Food safety is in the news again.

Congressman John Dingell (D-Mich) is calling on the Senate to get busy and pass the food safety bill that it has been sitting on for the last 10 months: "I urge my Senate colleagues to acknowledge this important threat and make legislation addressing it a priority. Until the Senate acts, American families will continue to be at risk."

READ MORE (The Atlantic) ]

Other issues delay Senate food safety

Senate food safety legislation is getting squeezed by a tight Congressional calendar and a contentious battle over a pending amendment to the bill by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to restrict the use of the chemical Bisphenol A (known as BPA) in food and beverage containers.

Senate consideration of the food safety reform bill S. 510 may be pushed back from the second week of June to later in the month, said Kate Fitzgerald, senior policy associate with the Washington, D.C-based National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

READ MORE (The Packer) ]

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