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

The vast majority of these provisions, along with the recordkeeping requirements, traceability, mandatory recall authority, will do absolutely nothing to prevent food-borne disease outbreaks from occurring but will do plenty, do plenty, to keep Federal bureaucrats busy. And these are all the sorts of things that could be worked out through the normal legislative process, but only if there's a process.

Mr. Speaker, let me return to where I started. We have the safest food supply in the world. Anyone who follows current events knows that our food production system faces ongoing food safety challenges, and I stand ready to work with my colleagues, all of my colleagues, to address those challenges.

Our Nation's farmers, ranchers, packers, processors, retailers, and consumers deserve better.

Stupak, Bart U.S. Representative
[D] Michigan

Mr. STUPAK. I thank the gentleman for yielding and for the kind words. As I wrap up my 18 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, this is a good bill in which to wrap up a career. I first introduced food safety legislation along with Mr. Dingell and Mr. Pallone and now-Senator Brownback in 1997. For 14 years we have been fighting to try to update our Nation's food safety laws.

And then as chair of Oversight and Investigations, we have held over 13 hearings on food-borne illnesses from spinach, peanut butter, jalapenos, and most recently tainted eggs. Why was all this necessary? As has been noted, our food laws have not been updated since 1938. And we know more and more of our foods are coming from different sources and different countries. But this year and each year approximately 77 million Americans become ill because of food-borne illnesses, 325,000 arehospitalized, and up to 5,000 Americans will die, some of our most vulnerable Americans, such as children and senior citizens, those whose immune systems have been weakened or are not fully developed.

But if you are a young child and you do survive, what kind of life do you have after you have spent time in a hospital getting a new kidney? You face a lifetime of medication and bankruptcy of your family. We must act now to pass this food safety bill. This bill contains many good provisions, including the trace-back provision, which is designed to make it easier to prevent and respond to outbreaks in food-borne illnesses.

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