Pew Says Most Kentuckians Support Food Safety Act

by scrosby on July 13, 2010

by Stephanie Crosby

The Pew Health Group is working to rally support for legislation on Capital Hill known as the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. The group released a poll today that says 85% of Kentuckians support strengthening food safety regulation.

The poll of 500 Kentucky residents was conducted last month.

Pew Food Safety Campaign Director Sandra Eskin says, among other things, the bill would give the Food and Drug Administration more authority over farmers and food manufacturers.

“So one major component of the legislation is to require food processors, food companies, to develop food safety plans, look at their operation, identify where contamination can occur, institute measures to try to prevent that contamination or minimize it, and then monitor it,” says Eskin.

But organizations that represent small farms oppose the bill, saying the new mandates are too costly for small operations. They say the farms would be put out of business by larger corporations that can afford to comply with the new rules.

The bill was introduced last year, but is still awaiting a vote in the Senate.

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{ 3 comments }

Sherry Dour July 14, 2010 at 10:30 am

I wonder how the poll was worded. No one in their right mind would oppose “food safety.” People need to be educated about what that means.

Large scale factory farming and processed foods are the sources of unsafe foods. That is the system which needs to be restructured. Not merely regulated, but changed completely.

Small, local, organic farms are not part of that system and need to be free to raise healthful food without having to jump through meaningless bureaucratic hoops. Such regulation imposed on small farms will eventually shut them down, leaving sick, corporate, chemical-laden factory farm products as the only option.

Please think about what you’re supporting before you support it.

freethinker July 14, 2010 at 11:06 am

There is a problem with the previous comment. It’s chock full of assumptions — that people with good intentions can make a mistake or have unintended consequences due to factors outside of their control (such as what the farmer upstream of you does on his land).

The notion that dangerous pathogens discriminate is ludricous. All the fear-mongering is not helpful. We need to be working together to find ways for ALL food producers and processors to provide us with safe food whether they are a big or small operation.

How will developing a safety plan run a farmer out of business? Wouldn’t you want anyone growing your food to have conducted an assessment of where problems in the process might arise and devise a plan to address them *before* the problem presented itself? I know I do but, I’m just funny that way. I don’t want to face losing my colon, blood transfusions, kidney transplants and the host of lesser complications that can accompany serious foodborne illness when it is all too easy to prevent it in the first place.

My mother and small farmers from the rural part of our county grew our food. I support farmers’ markets and healthful living but, I want to security of knowing that someone is holding everyone responsible for the safety of our food supply.

SherryD July 14, 2010 at 11:54 am

@freethinker, My intention is not to fear-monger. I agree it is not helpful. I had a knee-jerk reaction and posted too soon. I just get frustrated at the assumption that ALL food producers are potential poisoners, when there seem (to me) to be methods that are less likely to result in accidental harm and some methods that are more likely to do so. And I admit to a bias against processed food and a belief that corporations do not have good intentions. I think they are in business to make money and if a few people get sick, so be it. And if they get caught, they’ll take action.

I trust my farmer. I know where my food comes from because I pick it up at the farm every week. And I believe that he does take precautions (including being as aware as possible of what’s upstream) to make sure that the food I buy from him is safe for me to eat.

I didn’t mean to imply that pathogens discriminate. I think the shorter the chain is from land to table, the less opportunity pathogens have to get to the food and the easier it is to trace back any problems. I admit, I don’t fully understand how all this works. I have only read articles and heard news stories. Many of these outbreaks of foodborne illnesses have taken a lot of time to trace to the source. I recall one recently that was thought to be one thing, then another, then another. I don’t remember if they ever figured out where it came from. Perhaps the story got old and uninteresting and left the spotlight before that happened.

I’m not saying regulation isn’t a good step. And you’re right that I am making assumptions. I am assuming this is a one-size-fits-all proposition. To my mind requiring small farms to provide reams of paperwork and subjecting them to the same rigors and fees as a large corporation is going to burden them unnecessarily and result in them not being able to continue to do what they are doing now. My understanding of what farmers do is that they work very hard to grow fruits and veggies and raise animals for us to eat. There is not a lot of free time to fill out forms and not a lot of extra money to pay fees for the privilege of working in the hot sun all summer long. That’s how a “safety plan” can run a small farmer out of business. Regulation requires documentation, which is time-consuming. Smaller operations are not going to have the resources to keep up with designing plans and filing forms all the time.

Thanks for the debate. This issue clearly is very important to a lot of people.

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