Food Safety Bills- Misdiagnosis Strikes Again
© Doreen Hannes 2009
Houston, We DO Have a Problem……
Is there a problem in our food supply? Most people would hazard to guess that yes, there are more issues now than in the past several decades. And they would be correct. So how has this happened?
That's where it gets a bit more tricky. What has changed in the past twenty years in the food chain? Aside from the tremendous increase in imports, the FDA and the USDA have begun to implement HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point plans) instead of literal inspections on processing plants. HACCP is an international standard that goes along with 'risk-analysis', and 'risk management' and international standards applied through the "Sanitary Phyto-Sanitary Agreement" of the World Trade Organization. It is supposed to increase food safety by having people who operate these plants design and plan protocols to follow that are then submitted to certifiers for approval and judged to be sufficient or insufficient by the certifier. Then inspections are conducted, but not nearly as frequently nor with as much rigor as they once were, but with lots of paperwork added to non-productive overhead and less in the way of actual physical inspections.
Now the march is on to bring HACCP to the farm itself. But the question is, do these problems originate on the farm? Not usually. The problems with e-coli in meat stem from sloppy slaughtering at slaughter plants where they are reportedly running cattle through so fast that they sometimes still moo as they are being skinned. When intestinal material gets on the meat, this can cause the meat to be contaminated with e-coli that occurs naturally in the intestines. The answer to this problem is to slow the line down and do a better job of being careful in the butchering process. Not to audit farms for the prevalence of e-coli in the intestinal tracts of cattle, or any other animal.
The issue becomes one of industrialized agribusiness in direct opposition to agriculturalists. People who raise animals and eat the meat at their own dinner table are not in the least interested in eating antibiotic residues or steroid filled meat themselves. Those who run giant feed lots to bring animals up to slaughter weight as quickly as possible have more of an interest in using the steroids and needing the antibiotics to keep the animals alive, yet they don't all implant steroids or feed antibiotics either. Even the largest feedlots are subservient to the dwindling number of meat packing plants. Five plants control over 80% of slaughter now.
It's the same with the vegetables and other produce. The processing is where contamination becomes the issue. There is no way to raise crops in a vacuum without contact with any wildlife or birds that may off load their alimentary canals as they do flyovers catching bugs and the like. Trying to run a completely 'pest free area', as international standards instruct, is antithetical to reality. If you want serious food scarcity, try to keep life from playing its part in the production of food. Washing the produce before eating it is simply the responsibility of whoever is preparing the food. Not something to be micromanaged by bureaucrats swarming over farms with check lists 20 plus pages long and a penchant for sterility that rivals Howard Hughes.
The food safety bills that have been put forward in the US Congress all have three things in common that will not address the problems of real food safety in the least. Instead they create new revenue avenues for more bureaucrats and add several layers of paperwork onto those who would like to continue to fight the weather, wildlife, multinational corporate consolidation and government regulators to continue to feed the nation and themselves.
The three top issues that appear in all these so-called "food safety" bills are as follows:
1) ascribe international standards to fulfill obligations to international agreements
2) make food grown domestically captive supply for export
3) bring certification and auditing to production and all processing
Understanding that 'international standards' are a mix of guidelines from Codex Alimentarius, The World Animal Health Organization (OIE), and the IPPC (International Plant Protection Convention) that, when piled together, become "Good Agricultural Practices" and require full traceability back to the farm of origin along with all processes being certified, verified, audited and documented along the way on every article of food world wide should give one pause to consider the level of scrutiny and enormous bureaucracy that would be involved in such a system.
The fastest growing segment of agriculture in the United States is the local food movement. These international standards will bury those on the production side of this movement in paperwork that would choke an IRS agent, and people simply will not continue to sweat and toil in their pastures and fields only to sweat over paperwork with fines, penalties and inspection fees as the likely reward for their efforts.
The answer to the honest concerns about food safety is to have the Congress instruct agencies in charge of inspection to ignore HACCP and actually inspect the processing plants that they already have the authority to inspect and leave those who wish to court export markets with the right to do so by following the protocols outlined in the Export Verification Services of the USDA. Passing legislation that will drastically increase regulatory authority of the FDA and USDA is not going to address the problem that exists, but it sure would increase their revenue stream and further the economic collapse of rural America. +++++
( A few links: For the fun of implementing HACCP on a farm, check out this link:
http://www.ourfood.com/HACCP_ISO_9000.html#SECTION001600400000000000000 and keep scrolling, please.
Then: http://www.oie.int/eng/normes/mcode/en_sommaire.htm look at the sections on animal traceability and identification
Also: http://www.codexalimentarius.net/web/standard_list.jsp and look at a few of those on traceability and good hygienic practices
Live cattle slaughtered-this is just one of several articles on this:
In Depth on HR2749: "Welcome to the Global Plantation" http://www.newswithviews.com/Hannes/doreen100.htm