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Polls and Pols Beginning to Take Import Food Safety Seriously

Threats to food and product safety have been all over the news lately, and although China has been getting much of the heat, the New York Times reports that many other countries are experiencing problems with their exports. According to data from the FDA, inspectors have stopped more food shipments from India and Mexico than China in the last year. And CAFTA partner Dominican Republic is not far behind, with massive seizures of pesticide-infected produce, something that the WTO and CAFTA make it harder to have rigorous prevention-based screens against:

"The reality is, this is not a single-country issue at all," said Carl R. Nielsen, who resigned from the Food and Drug Administration in 2005, after 28 years..."What we are experiencing is massive globalization."

Meanwhile, no matter where this food is coming from, a new poll shows that 92% of Americans are in favor of country-of-origin labeling. Presidential candidate John Edwards has also come out with a new proposal on increasing food safety, which would include requiring country-of-origin labeling, strengthen the FDA and food inspection, and require safety systems abroad. You can find out more about Edwards' plan here.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) have also just proposed a food import safety bill, which would require importers to begin to pay fees for inspection. Durbin summed up his approach thus, “If you want to sell in America, you have to meet American standards.”

UPDATE: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is also participating in the new imports bill. You can read his release after the jump.

IN WAKE OF FOOD IMPORT CRISIS, BROWN INTRODUCES NEW LEGISLATION TO REFORM FDA IMPORT PROGRAM

Washington, DC – With recent news of contaminated products being imported from China, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced new legislation to strengthen the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ability to monitor and inspect goods that enter the United States from abroad.

“We have an obligation to protect the American people from dangerous products and ensure food imports meet U.S. health and safety standards,” Senator Brown said. “In the absence of strong U.S. oversight, food safety problems in China and other countries become our problems, too. That’s a needless burden and a serious risk.”

The Durbin/Brown Imported Food Security Act of 2007 would mandate that foreign imports meet the same or better standards than those of the U.S., and would give the FDA the authority to approve and disapprove of countries eligible to import. It would establish a certification system for foreign governments or food establishments seeking to import food to the U.S. It would require the FDA to collect user fees on imported food products, and the revenues generated would be used for imported food inspection and food safety research.

Under the current food import system, any country or company can export food products to the U.S. if they notify regulators of the shipment. The FDA does not ensure that trading partners have equivalent standards or inspect overseas plants when problems arise. When there is an outbreak, the FDA’s investigation can be delayed by uncooperative foreign governments. During the recent pet food recall, U.S. regulators were delayed three weeks in their request for visas to inspect Chinese facilities. In addition to China, many other countries are experiencing problems with their exports. According to the FDA, inspectors stopped more food shipments from India and Mexico than China in 2006.

With 76 million Americans sickened each year from food borne illnesses, consumers are demanding stricter food safety laws. According to a recent Consumer Reports study, 92 percent of Americans want to know which country produced the food they buy.

Food imports constitute a growing share of what Americans eat and what is sold on grocery shelves across the country. In 1996, the U.S. had an agricultural trade balance of over $27 billion more exports going out than imports coming in. Today, that balance has dropped to only $8 billion. Individual shipments of food from China have recently been quoted as going from 82,000 shipments in 2002 to 199,000 in 2006.

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Comments

Gisela Swift

Please be very careful with this loaded Farm bill as the Country of Origin also includes the National Animal Identification System. They are tied together. I support COOL but do not support the NAIS. COOL was passed into law in the 2002 Farm bill and has yet to be implemented due to Big Ag stone walling it.. Food Safety and Organic Consumers Association changed there form letters to reflect the stripping of NAIS out of the Farm bill. Please read more about the NAIS at www.naisinfocentral.net. Voting for Cool tired directly to NAIS will make every farmer, every hobbyist register there land with and "Official USDA" number which can NEVER be removed.That number will get sold with the property if you can find a buyer. One must read numerous documents to see the implecations in this program including the huge fines for a mistake and or the search and seizures. Once that is completed every species of livestock and it takes just one will have to be identified with an RFID chip or tag. Once that is complete in order to move your animals off your property you will be required that you report it to the Gov within 24 hours. Now what they don't tell you is that you will be paying for this system and it wont be cheap, in essence you will be paying BIG ag for profits that you will never see. You will be paying them to stay in and compete in the market. there is much more to this so please read the docs and help get the NAIS out of the farm bill by stripping it out

esbee

I agree!!!!! If you want food safety YOU DO NOT WANT NAIS, period, tied in with COOL or any other thing...
...NAIS only deals with disease AFTER the fact...no prevention at all, just depopulating a 6 mile radius where the disease is suspected (140 sq. miles). While everyone who owns just one farm animal, even a pet pot belly pig in suburbia, will have to register their premises, microchip their critters and file reports on that animal's movements, births and deaths, all BIG AG is responsible for is the ONE LOT NUMBER per large groups of animals! Sound fair? One or more of those animals could be sick and who would know. See nonais.org for more info. and see the sidebars at the site for the many other websites telling the truth about NAIS, using the NAIS documents...Now for a message to the USDA...NO, we are not spreading disinformation. Since when is it disinformation to disagree with a program that tramples on our rights and puts farmers/ranchers/horse owners under closer surveillance than convicted child molesters, drug dealers and the illegal aliens (who are bringing in diseases like TB) that you employ en masse?

esbee

Here are some websites that tell more about NAIS and why it will be a bad thing~~~ To find out more about this insanity check out these websites and organizations fighting NAIS. (national animal identification system)

http://www.nonais.org/ http://www.tofga.org/ (organic farmers/growers) http://www.farmandranchfreedom.org/ http://libertyark.net/ http://arkansasanimalproducers.8k.com/ http://www.vicfa.net/
Read the documents at www.naisinfocentral.net

Robert von Zill

Not only FOOD are we exposed to imported dangers, but TEETH TO! Yes, crowns are being made for 39.00 in China and dentists in America are putting them in peoples mouths! 10% of all crowns now are estimated to be made in either Mexico and or China. To get the link to this go to the classified at LMTcommunications.com
Also, with Dental prothetics , laminates, crowns and bridges, the patient had 'no ' idea without demanding to see the Laboratory bill where it was made, what are the materials used, and the cost.
Imagine, a dentist charging a thousand dollars for your 39.00 made in China crown. This is serious! They cant get toothpasted and dogfood right.

healthy dog food

Basically everything! From pet foods, human foods, toothpastes, and even children toys.

Buyer should insist for a product test before they purchase the goods from manifactors. If they don't do that, it would be the buyer responsibility if anything goes wrong with the product they sell to the public. It is the name of the product that people have faith on.

Therefore buyer should do the right thing, not just to calculate how much they could make from the products.

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