ONTD Political

S.B. 510: A Food "Safety" Bill or Something Else Entirely?

9:15 pm - 11/20/2010
Do you grow heirloom tomatoes you sell on your own property or at a local farmer’s market? If so, you will be in for a whopper of a surprise if Senator Durbin’s Senate Bill 510 (S.B. 510) passes: you may be receiving a visit from inspectors.

Products not grown according to designated standards will be considered adulterated and your business records will be subject to warrantless searches by inspectors from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), all this without any evidence that you have violated any law.

Wonder why the National Guard or Federal agents have effectively imposed martial law by quarantining your town? Under S.B. 510’s House counterpart bill, H.R. 2749 (Section 133b, “Authority to Prohibit or Restrict the Movement of Food”), sponsored by Congressman Dingell, the Secretary of Health and Human Services will have the power to prohibit all movement of all food within a geographic area, whether the food is in your grandmother’s grocery bag in her Toyota Hybrid or on a flatbed. No court order will be needed, just a phone call to the appropriate state official and a public announcement will be sufficient.

Upset that raw milk or raw milk cheeses (like feta) are no longer available in the U.S.? This could well happen thanks to the “performance standards” powers that would be granted to the FDA by S.B. 510, especially since the agency has made it clear that it is vehemently opposed to the consumption of raw milk products.

Amazed that U.S. food safety regulations strangely match those of other countries? Well, Section 306 of S.B. 510 would require “Recommendations to harmonize requirements under the Codex Alimentarius.”

And what about food supplement manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and health food stores? Will they be ensnared in this bill’s draconian, 1984-esque net? Very possibly so.

This all may seem far-fetched, but theoretically, this new law would give the government all this authority.

S.B. 510 (which would cost Americans $825 billion in 2010 alone) and the House of Representatives version of this bill, H.R. 2749, which did pass under suspended rules, do not address the root causes of the U.S.'s food safety problems, which were highlighted in both a recent campaign by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) and by a letter to 99 U.S. senators by the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF USA).

According to Citizens for Health (http://www.citizens.org/), if this proposed law is enacted it would:

• Undermine DSHEA and move the U.S. one step closer to harmonizing our standards under Codex with those of supplement-restrictive regimes like the European Union. (DSHEA, or the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, asserts that supplements are food and are safe for consumption unless proven otherwise – ensuring that millions of Americans are able to enjoy access to safe, effective and affordable dietary supplements).

• Give the FDA unprecedented control over farms and direct-to-consumer distributors. If passed, the bills would charge facilities an annual $500 registration fee, require additional record keeping, and expand FDA authority to quarantine geographic areas for alleged food safety problems – all without significantly improving food safety.

• Cost U.S. taxpayers trillions of dollars ($825 billion in 2010 alone) while providing fewer physical inspections and less food safety overall.

• Harm U.S. organic farmers by imposing overlapping regulations.

• Hurt food supplements and health-food stores by imposing standards that are already covered by the AER (Adverse Event Reporting) Law, cGMPs (current Good Manufacturing Practices) and food facility registration.

• Cripple local food co-ops, farm stands, independent ranchers and artisanal food producers by imposing unnecessary standards and unfair bureaucratic burdens.

Clearly, S.B. 510, while purporting to increase food safety would actually leave consumers more vulnerable to foodborne disease since the FDA would be required to use a risky, risk-based food safety system rather than doing old-fashioned, effective physical, on-site inspections in plants, factory farms and slaughterhouses, where the actual food safety concerns are.

Furthermore, the U.S. has abrogated its duty to inspect and enforce food safety standards, both here and abroad, by allowing processing plants to regulate themselves under a failed system; and it has embraced policies that have driven independent U.S. farmers and ranchers out of business and replaced them with corporate-owned, industrialized food production units that are known to cut food safety corners to maximize corporate profits.


This is the first time I've heard about this and I'm not even sure what to think. The person who pointed this out to me said that basically having a back yard garden would be a thing of the past if this passes. If that's true then it's total bullshit.
holdyourdevil 21st-Nov-2010 02:32 am (UTC)
This is such bullshit.
holdyourdevil 21st-Nov-2010 02:34 am (UTC)
To expand, the FDA does such crappy jobs at regulating the food industry as is, both in terms of food safety and its impact on the environment. I don't know, I guess I feel like Congressman Dingell should be introduced to Michael Pollan.
snarksnarklaugh 21st-Nov-2010 02:47 am (UTC)
There's about 300+ million people and lets assume they only eat 3 times a day = food saftey is actually pretty good if you look at the statistics of reported food caused illness. Even if you account for unreported illness( which is hard to do) it's still pretty small.

Many food illnesses are really preperation problems from the person who gets sick or a resturant/chef.

holdyourdevil 21st-Nov-2010 03:15 am (UTC)
Actually I'd argue that the FDA over-regulates, and you're right about food safety. I had a knee-jerk reaction to this post and got the FDA mixed up with the USDA. I dislike the FDA for many, may reasons, but it is true that food-born illnesses are much more often than not the result of bad preparation or storage by the hands of the consumer.
snarksnarklaugh 21st-Nov-2010 02:43 am (UTC)
Not transporting food long distances is a good idea. That is one way how plant diseases and bugs spread. I obvisously can't say what the bill does because I haven't read it, but this sounds like a bit of fear mongering. They aren't going to put your Gran in jail for growing carrots or something.

You can buy raw milk and cheese depending on state and purpose of milk (easy to get around law).
miss_nyxie 21st-Nov-2010 02:49 am (UTC)
That was my concern as well. I tried to find a legit news article about this subject, but it was mostly all blogs and smaller news sharing sites. I want to know the truth of the bill without all the 'zomg we're going to jail for having home gardens!!".
danceprincess20 21st-Nov-2010 03:12 am (UTC)
I just did some googling because I hadn't heard anything like this about the bill. Most of the blogs popping up also call Durbin a socialist so I'm hesitant to trust them.
miss_nyxie 21st-Nov-2010 03:15 am (UTC)

My main motivation for posting this here was because I know a lot of members are smart and know about current events. I wanted to get some outside opinions about it before I start freaking out.
danceprincess20 21st-Nov-2010 03:18 am (UTC)
I don't think there is much coverage period and, let's be honest, what are the chances that Durbin can get a bill past that would cost money anyway? haha Even if it's not an extreme bill I couldn't see it realistically getting anywhere. From what I have heard, Coburn is throwing a shit fit (shocker) and that alone can end things.

I absolutely would like to know more but I just can't really find anything.
adinasauce 21st-Nov-2010 07:17 am (UTC)
Actual text of the bill can be found here. It's 266 pages of legalese, though, and there's a summary here.

I don't see anything in the summary that remotely resembles what's being said in this article. There are no appropriations listed in the bill, so I'm honestly not sure where this article is getting its $810bn price-tag from. From the looks of it, it's amending laws/regulations that are already in place, and already being paid for.

Two videos covering the legislation:



90-second summary of the bill:


miss_nyxie 21st-Nov-2010 07:59 am (UTC)
This is excellent, thank you very much!
adinasauce 21st-Nov-2010 08:00 am (UTC)
No prob!
5251962 21st-Nov-2010 12:16 pm (UTC)
That is exactly what I'd hoped to see when I saw this posted! Lol
taiki 21st-Nov-2010 02:43 am (UTC)
On one hand, I'm opposed to the idea that organic farming even shows any benefit, on the other hand this is really heavy handed, and that's even more obscene. :/ Ugh. what the hell.
lemorttoussaint 21st-Nov-2010 02:44 am (UTC)
What is this shit.
dreadfulpenny81 21st-Nov-2010 03:00 am (UTC)
This is separate from food safety, but I thought it was just as ludicrous:

Georgia Man Steve Miller Fined for Backyard Garden in 'Cabbagegate' Saga
firerosearien 21st-Nov-2010 03:06 am (UTC)
While I have many issues with a bill that promises to be all encompassing...how is "• Undermine DSHEA and move the U.S. one step closer to harmonizing our standards under Codex with those of supplement-restrictive regimes like the European Union. (DSHEA, or the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, asserts that supplements are food and are safe for consumption unless proven otherwise – ensuring that millions of Americans are able to enjoy access to safe, effective and affordable dietary supplements)."

that a bad idea?

I have major food problems, and the four months I spent in Europe? The instances in which I had said problems were drastically reduced. That's okay by me.

Here's the point I got from Pollen: if food is consumed in its natural and unrefined form, you don't necessarily need the supplements.
(no subject) - Anonymous
raggedyanndy 21st-Nov-2010 05:37 am (UTC)
Thanks for the link. After reading that, I'd say it sounds like a pretty good idea, actually.
liz_marcs Thaaaaank you...21st-Nov-2010 07:09 am (UTC)
Every damn year I see this crop up, and every damn year I tell people to go check THOMAS and dare them to find anything in the damn bill (HR 875) that reflects the latest scare-mongering article like the one posted above.

Reading comprehension, I swear...

Oh, hell.

I urge everyone to read the text of the actual bill for themselves.

Yes, this is the House version, but this is the proposal that's on the table.

Here's what it does not affect: Your garden. Farmers' Markets. Organic anything.

Sorry for the grumpy comment. I keep running across this and I keep pointing people to the actual bill (and to SNOPES, so thank you for the link) and this is literally the Urban Legend that Won't Die.

Edited at 2010-11-21 07:14 am (UTC)
hinoema Re: Thaaaaank you...21st-Nov-2010 07:33 am (UTC)
Thank you. This had the earmarks of a scare tactic piece. I'm glad it is.
miss_nyxie Re: Thaaaaank you...21st-Nov-2010 07:58 am (UTC)
Thank you! This type of information is exactly what I was hoping for when I posted the article.
skittish_derby 21st-Nov-2010 03:21 am (UTC)
that doesn't sound like grandma's garden will be shut down at all. As long as she doesn't sell the fruits and vegetables, she can grow whatever she pleases.
haruhiko 21st-Nov-2010 10:01 am (UTC)
Lol @ people posting Snopes shit and thinking that it means something when you're talking about the nuts and bolts of food policy. The article the OP posted is exaggerating and being sensationalist, but that doesn't change the fact that the bill is flawed and will only be worth passing if key amendments protecting family farmers and small farms remain in place:

Montana Senator John Tester, the only organic farmer in the Senate, believes that without his amendment, the food safety bill could seriously harm family farmers.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Senator Tester said, "It's going to put a nail in the coffin of our family food producers."

If the food safety bill passes without the Tester-Hagan and Manager's Amendments there will be no guaranteed protections for family farmers who sell locally to farmers markets, customers, stores or restaurants and the most vibrant segment of agriculture could face severe restrictions from the FDA.

Corporate interests have already killed DiFi's amendment to ban bisphenol-A in food containers. If anyone thinks Big Ag isn't working its ass off to get Tester-Hagan and Manager's watered down or removed, or that the passage of this bill without those amendments is going to be good for the small farmers and those committed to producing real food, they're living in a dreamworld.

5251962 21st-Nov-2010 12:14 pm (UTC)
This is sadly not the first time I have heard about this- the Tea Party supporters on my facebook lists have been ranting about it like crazy because not all that long ago- a dairy in Missouri got hit. Not by this- but for the same reasons and they say that incidents like that are why this is going up.

For what it is worth, I am really, truly not even remotely close to being a tea party supporter, and I thought, "Oh jeez, more of your paranoia..gah." And then I saw a post about this- and I'm glad you posted because I had intended to look it up to fact check and this helps. You're right, it is total bullshit. :(
aviv_b 21st-Nov-2010 11:04 pm (UTC)
The sad part is that like so many things that go through Congress, this started out as a 'real' food safety bill. Many of us have been working along side Durbin to push for real food safety regs like they have in the EU. Where Big Ag and Big Packers don't get to self regulate (Ecoli, duh, I don't see no stinkin' ecoli).

Oddly enough, my personal involvement started with the pet food poisonings when I suddenly realized, OMG its all one food supply! Most of our vitamin additives to human foods come from China, hey most vitamins themselves are made in China. Adulterated protein additives, same ones used in pet foods are used in food for human consumption.
But as usual, once it goes through the legislative process it ends ups exempting practically everyone it was supposed to cover (big Ag and the big food processors - yeah I'm talking about you Hormel, Tyson, etc) and ends up only having teeth toward folks who were never supposed to be covered by this in the first place.

It wouldn't surprise me to hear the following breaking news story...."solyent green protein booster in baby food - its people.
thisfishflies 21st-Nov-2010 11:48 pm (UTC)
DSHEA, or the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, asserts that supplements are food and are safe for consumption unless proven otherwise – ensuring that millions of Americans are able to enjoy access to safe, effective and affordable dietary supplements.

ahahahahahahahah. hahahah.
ladycakes 22nd-Nov-2010 12:38 am (UTC)
This is Big Agribusiness freaking the fuck out and using their lobbying power to shut down the local food movement.

Write your damn representatives! Call until they are sick of hearing your voice!
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