EDITORIAL: Put our money where our mouth is on food safety
By THE VOICE OF AURORA
The Aurora Sentinel
Wednesday, July 29, 2009 9:46 PM MDT
Americans are dying for a better system to ensure food
And it appears American lives will continue to be in peril with each trip to
the grocery store since Congress on Wednesday narrowly failed to approve a
measure that would require more government inspections and oversight of food
manufacturers. In a procedural matter, members of the House needed a
two-thirds majority to push through desperately needed changes, but failed by
only a few votes to get the needed super-majority. The procedure would not
have allowed for changes to the bill.
Despite the most recent food-illness outbreak, involving salmonella-tainted
peanut products, naysaying congressmen didnít consider the matter important
enough to fast-track badly needed changes. In short: no additional protection
for American consumers.
Itís a story thatís gotten old.
Rather than supplying answers, Congress once again is handing out excuses as
to why itís unable to ensure the safety of the countryís food supply even
though eight people died and hundreds more were sickened by
salmonella-contaminated peanut butter and other products.
Those who voted no say they need more time. Those sickened or killed by the
lack of oversight would argue differently.
Before the latest scandal, itís been horror stories
about spinach, tomatoes, peppers and juices. In addition, the country cringed
repeatedly after being subjected to tales about lethal food, drugs and other
products from China. Related to that were sickening stories about ill cattle
being dragged into slaughterhouses to become hamburger fed to millions.
During the height of these revelations, the former Bush administration
pointed out that the FDA has resources to inspect less than 1 percent of the
food and drugs imported into this country, and that they had no intention of
making much of a change in that.
Sadly, we have become a country that can say only ďbuyer beware.Ē
This isnít because of a shortage of competence by FDA officials. Itís a
shortage of inspectors. Itís because we simply find that ensuring a safe food
and drug supply isnít a priority.
FDA officials last week admitted that when it comes to domestic food
inspections, the feds rely on states for well over half of all compliance
checks. And anyone who reads this or any other newspaper lately well knows
whatís happening to every state workforce in the country. This disrespect for
Americaís food health means that we are all at the mercy of the good will of
every food producer in the country.
That means American consumers must depend on luck every time they down to
dinner. This bill must be a priority when Congress returns from itís
month-long vacation. Americans will just have to hope their luck holds out