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Friday, March 6, 2009

USDA / FHA Food Safety gets an "F"

From Sue Thixtons "the Truth About Pet Food" blog;

The last few years have more than proven the current system at the FDA doesn’t work. The Safe Food Act, introduced into Congress in 2007, hopes to establish a new food safety agency, leaving the FDA in control over drugs and supplements alone. However, Congress has been sitting on a Food Safety plan for two years, yet food related illnesses and recalls continue.

The pet food recall of 2007 was the deadliest in history. Already this year we’ve had countless recalls of human foods and pet treats from filthy conditions at a peanut processing facility in Georgia. The Washington Post reported that government regulators were not even aware of a second peanut plant owned by Peanut Corporation of America in Texas, which had never been inspected.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) reports that the Safe Food Act, S. 654 and H.R. 1148, was introduced by Senator Richard Durbin and Representative Rosa DeLauro. The review of the Safe Food Act from CSPI emphasizes the consumer confusion over what government agency inspects different foods, and emphasizes the varied regulatory styles of the FDA and the USDA. As example, “a frozen cheese pizza is subject to inspection by the FDA, which usually inspects a factory once every 10 years. A frozen pepperoni pizza falls under the jurisdiction of the USDA, which performs almost daily inspections.” With regards to imported foods, “imported foods are treated differently depending on whether they are regulated by the FDA or the USDA. While USDA approves the foreign meat and poultry plants that want to export to the U.S., FDA cannot even visit the foreign food processors that are linked to outbreaks of illness in this country without the invitation of the foreign government.”

The CSPI website states the Safe Food Act “fixes our broken food safety system by:
• “Establishing the Food Safety Administration, a single agency responsible for ensuring the safety of the nation’s food supply;
• “Requiring domestic and foreign food processors to register, be inspected more frequently based on risk, and implement measures to control and reduce harmful contaminants and pathogens in food;
• “Improving the safety of imported foods by requiring imported food to meet the same level of safety as that of food produced domestically;
• “Appointing a Food Safety Administrator with authority to detain and seize any food, food ingredient or animal feed that is believed to be unsafe for consumption, is adulterated, or is misbranded; and
• “Replacing the current voluntary recall system with a procedure for issuing a mandatory recall when unsafe food is found on store shelves.”

Sounds great doesn’t it? However, right up front, there are two big problems for health conscious consumers. As the bill stands now, food supplements such as fish oil are to be left under FDA control. The American Association for Health Freedom, a supporter of natural health supplements, states “the FDA would implicitly class supplements with drugs when they are in fact food supplements, and the FDA’s hostile treatment of supplements would only increase.”

The other initial problem with the Food Safety Act is Congress itself. The bill has been sitting on the desks of our Senators and Representatives since February 2007. details the legislation as “To establish the Food Safety Administration to protect the public health by preventing food-borne illness, ensuring the safety of food, improving research on contaminants leading to food-borne illness, and improving security of food from intentional contamination, and for other purposes.” The last ‘activity’ on the bill was February 27, 2007 when it was referred to the Subcommittee on Health. The last Congressional Sponsor of the bill was almost nine months ago (per the website).

How many deaths, illnesses, and recalls is it going to take for Congress to do something? If and when the new agency becomes active, we’ll have to wait and see if the Administration of the proposed Food Safety Agency will provide pet food manufacturers loopholes allowing euthanized, diseased, and drugged animals into pet foods (in violation of Federal laws) as the FDA has been doing for years. Time will only tell.

To read the Senate version of the Food Safety Act bill, visit

To read the House version of the Food Safety Act bill, visit

Please contact your Congressional Representative and ask them to get off their duffs regarding the Food Safety Act. To find your Representatives in Congress, visit Enter your zip code for the names of your Representatives and contact information.

Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Truth about Pet Food
Petsumer Report

To visit Sues wonderful blog about pet-food safety,
click on title above

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