Consumer Group Urges FDA To Focus On Large Facilities

(Weston A. Price Foundation) — The Weston A. Price Foundation, a consumer nutrition organization, is urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to focus its resources on the large, industrialized food suppliers who pose the highest risk of injury to American consumers. The FDA is holding public meetings and inviting comments on the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which gave the agency broad new powers to regulate the food supply.

(Weston A. Price Foundation) — The Weston A. Price Foundation, a consumer nutrition organization, is urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to focus its resources on the large, industrialized food suppliers who pose the highest risk of injury to American consumers.

The FDA is holding public meetings and inviting comments on the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which gave the agency broad new powers to regulate the food supply. 

“We were very pleased that the FSMA included the Tester amendment, exempting small-scale direct marketing producers from some of the most burdensome provisions of the new law,” said Sally Fallon Morell, founder and president of the Weston A Price Foundation (WAPF).  “The big question, however, is whether the FDA will respect Congress’ recognition that small-scale local producers are different from the large-scale, national and multinational companies, which not only produce the majority of our food supply, but have produced almost all of the major foodborne illness problems.”

The FDA faces significant budgetary constraints in implementing the FSMA, as the House version of the FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill cut the agency’s funding by $285 million.

“The agency is complaining that it doesn’t have enough funds to properly address food safety,” continued Fallon Morell.  “But we’ve seen numerous examples of the agency wasting taxpayer dollars in going after small, local producers. If the agency shifts its focus to the truly high-risk facilities, then it could do a much better job protecting American consumers, even with the reduced funding.”

The comments submitted jointly by WAPF and the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA) this week urged FDA to consider several factors in determining which food facilities should be considered high-risk priorities, including the size of the facility, the complexity and scope of the supply and distribution chain, and whether the facility is already inspected at the state or local level. “In essence, the fewer ‘hands’ (including automated hands) that a food passes through, the lower risk it poses,” state the two groups in their comments.

FDA has already recognized the problem with complex supply and distribution chains, exacerbated by the role of imported foods. In a recent report, FDA acknowledged that “Imported vegetable protein contaminated with melamine has sickened and killed American pets. . .  Peppers, eggs, peanut butter, pistachios, spinach, and cookie dough have all been associated with serious disease outbreaks in recent years. Many of the crises were due to, or exacerbated by, the regulatory challenges of globalization.”

WAPF is urging the FDA to prioritize large facilities involved in complex supply and distribution chains, particularly those facilities that produce ingredients for other foods.  “It’s past time for FDA to pay attention to the real source of the problems – the industrial food system with its complex, multinational sourcing and distribution chains – and stop harassing small-scale American producers,” concluded Fallon Morell.

The comments are posted at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FDA-2011-N-0366-0010 and at http://westonaprice.org/legislative-updates/2263-the-food-safety-bill-implementation-process-begins.

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