Bachman’s Uninformed Attack on the Regulation of the Food Industry is Frightening.

Posted on September 20, 2011

Visiting a meat packer, Michele Bachman declared that the food industry is overregulated:

Bachmann visited a 140-year-old, family-run meatpacking plant in Des Moines and took a turn at cutting ribeye steaks in a chilly meat locker as she pushed back against regulations for food makers and other businesses. She did not call for the repeal of any specific rules.

“We want to have safety,” she said. “But we also want to have common sense.”

Bachmann says, as do most of those in the GOP field, that a lightened regulatory load would allow employers to spend money on expansion rather than federal compliance. But the Minnesota congresswoman is the first to focus the argument on the food-processing industry. []

The FDA and the USDA have responsibilities for overseeing food growing and production in this country.  The FDA generally regulates all non-meat foods; the USDA tracks meats and eggs.  Not only tainted foods but in the age of terrorism, it is not enough to make sure production facilities are clean and in compliance in all ways. Our very lives depend upon it.  Here is the mission of the FDA in this regard:

The Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (the Bioterrorism Act) directs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as the food regulatory agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, to take additional steps to protect the public from a threatened or actual terrorist attack on the U.S. food supply and other food-related emergencies.

To carry out certain provisions of the Bioterrorism Act, FDA has established new regulations requiring that:

  • Food facilities are registered with FDA, and
  • FDA be given advance notice on shipments of imported food.

The Bioterrorism Act requires domestic and foreign facilities that manufacture, process, pack, or hold food for human or animal consumption in the U.S. to register with the FDA by December 12, 2003.

Owners, operators, or agents in charge of domestic or foreign facilities that manufacture/process, pack, or hold food for consumption in the U.S. are required to register the facility with the FDA.

Domestic facilities are required to register whether or not food from the facility enters interstate commerce.

Foreign facilities that manufacture/process, pack, or hold food also are required to register unless food from that facility undergoes further processing (including packaging) by another foreign facility before the food is exported to the United States. However, if the subsequent foreign facility performs only a minimal activity, such as putting on a label, both facilities are required to register. []

More and more of our foods are coming from outside the US.  As in oil, we are growing dependent on foreign sources.  These sources don’t always raise foods with an eye to health. Pesticides long banned here are often used overseas.

Michele Bachman needs to further investigate the mission of these agencies and the history that caused their formation to better assess the value of their regulations.