N.P.P.C. calls food-safety bill 'much improved'

by Bryan Salvage
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DES MOINES, IOWA — On July 30, the House passed food-safety legislation the National Pork Producers Council labels as "much improved" compared to the version approved earlier by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Although pork producers continue to suffer record losses, N.P.P.C. believes the bill is a positive first step toward securing effective and meaningful food-safety reform legislation.

"N.P.P.C. is pleased that the bill passed [July 30] addressing our on-farm concerns," said Don Butler, president of the association. "We are thankful that the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2009 (P.A.M.T.A.), was not included in this food-safety bill."

Under P.A.M.T.A., products used to prevent and control diseases would be banned from use in livestock and poultry animal health, the association pointed out.

The Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, H.R. 2749, would give the Food and Drug Administration the framework for a risk-based inspection system and move the agency toward a preventive approach to food safety regulation. The bipartisan bill, sponsored by Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., would give the F.D.A. new authorities to address food-borne-illness outbreaks and regulate processors’ record keeping in hopes of more easily identifying these outbreaks.

"N.P.P.C. is grateful to Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., Ranking Member Joe Barton, R-Texas, and Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., for reaching compromise language contained in the bill," Mr. Butler said. "N.P.P.C. also appreciates the help of the many Energy and Commerce and Agriculture Committee members who voiced concerns regarding the impacts that the bill would have on America’s pork producers."

Mr. Butler added N.P.P.C. supports language in the bill recognizing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s authorities over products, facilities and farms raising animals from which meat and eggs are regulated under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act or the Egg Products Inspection Act. The association is also very supportive of the grains exemption, which helps diversified pork producers. Other improvements to the bill relate to traceability of food and record keeping.

The measure also takes a more targeted approach for the new authority granted to the F.D.A. to prohibit or restrict the movement of food. N.P.P.C. appreciates the strengthening of language that requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to consult with the Secretary of Agriculture.

"America’s pork producers support strengthening the nation’s food-safety system," Mr. Butler said. "The House bill moves us in the right direction — but work remains.

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