Food safety debate: Transcripts of the final chapter - The Packer

Food safety debate: Transcripts of the final chapter

12/22/2010 09:44:35 AM
Tom Karst

[Time: 15:30] One provision that raises questions is the so-called Tester amendment that was added to the Senate food safety bill. This provision will provide exemptions from food safety requirements based on a facility's or a farm's size. While we do not want to overly burden small facilities and small farms, we've learned in our committee hearings that food-borne pathogens don't care if you're a big facility or a small facility, a big farm or a small farm. They affect everyone.

A food safety issue in one facility or one farm can cause hundreds of illnesses and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic losses for farmers and small businesses. By allowing facilities exemptions from food safety requirements, we're setting our Nation up for the potential of future outbreaks. Our system is only as strong as its weakest link, and the Tester amendment will set up a system full of weak links.

This is just one example of the potential problems with this bill. These are problems we could have addressed through a conference, but, instead, we wasted 3 weeks and are being told, take it or leave it.

I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this legislation so we can do it the right way in the next Congress.

I reserve the balance of my time.

Pallone, Frank Jr. U.S. Representative
[D] New Jersey

Mr. PALLONE. Chairman Dingell, I want to thank you for all the hard work you have put in on this bill, and also Chairman Waxman. We worked on a bipartisan basis.

I rise today in strong support of the Food Safety Modernization Act. After 2 years of hard work, we're finally on the cusp of enacting landmark comprehensive food safety legislation.

The modernization of our food safety system is desperately needed. The current food regulatory regime was established in 1938 and hasn't been overhauled in 70 years. Since this time, the U.S. food supply has evolved into a global network made up of foreign products, processors, and growers over whom the U.S. has little or no control. Think about what a different world it was in 1938. That alone should be reason enough to update our food safety laws today.

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