December 15, 2017

PAMTA Reintroduced to Congress

Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the only microbiologist in Congress, has reintroduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) to prevent a post-antibiotic future. Overusing antibiotics causes bacteria to mutate and become resistant to these life-saving drugs. More than 2,000,000 Americans acquire an antibiotic-resistant infection every year, and at least 23,000 died from those infections. This carries a cost of $20 to 35 billion every year. PAMTA will address all routine uses of medically important antibiotics in the feed of animals that are not sick. The FDA made a commitment in 1977 to put limits on this antibiotic use. The voluntary guidance that agency issued in 2013 is being called a "fig leaf" solution to a monumental problem. Slaughter … [Read more...]

Cow Share Arrangement for Raw Milk Sales Allowed in WV

The legislature in West Virginia has cleared a bill that will let people purchase raw milk through cow herd share arrangements. The vote was 81-19, according to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. The sale of raw milk has been illegal in that state up to now. The retail sale of raw milk, at farms or at retail establishments, will not be allowed. Consumers would fill out a contract of ownership for a cow, and sign a form acknowledging that they are aware of the health risks posed by this product. In addition, physicians would be required to report any illnesses caused by raw milk to public health officials. Unfortunately, food poisoning outbreaks linked to raw milk increase in states where raw milk sales are legal. All raw milk contains pathogenic bacteria. Pasteurization is the only way … [Read more...]

Legislators Reintroduce PARA

Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) reintroduced the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act of 2014 (PARA) to Congress on Monday. This is the Senate version of the House bill PAMTA (Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act). This bill would force the FDA to withdraw approval of medically important antibiotics that are used for disease prevention unless the drug's maker can demonstrate that its use on factory farms doesn't pose a risk to humans. A revised label would need to be issued for antibiotics that meet this standard. The bill would close a gap in the FDA guidelines issued in December 2013. At that time, the government asked - not told - asked the industry to eliminate antibiotic use to help animals gain weight. Industry could still use antibiotics … [Read more...]

Missouri Bill Would End Regulation of Farm Sales

A bill that may be introduced to the Missouri legislature would end regulation on farm-produced products sold directly to the consumer. House Bill 866 is sponsored by State Representative Mike Moon (R-Ash Grove). Moon has not been able to get the bill scheduled on the calendar. The bill states that the farmer "must retain the right to choose" whether the products will be regulated by the state or local agencies. If the foods sold are not inspected or regulated, a sign must be posted warning consumers that the items are not regulated. The consumer then "retains the responsibility" that the products are wholesome. Food poisoning outbreaks linked to farm-sold goods have been numerous in the past few years. For instance, the Campylobacter outbreak linked to Family Cow raw milk in … [Read more...]

Steve King Reintroduces Bill to Nullify Animal Protection Laws

Steve King (R-IA) has reintroduced his Protect Interstate Commerce Act (PICA) which he tried to get into the Farm Bill last year. The bill would stop states from interfering with production and distribution of agricultural products in interstate or foreign commerce. In other words, individual states would not have the ability to control the types of foods sold in their states. If a state has specific standards for a food, and a company wants to sell that food without those standards in that state, the company would be allowed to do so. In addition, many consumer and animal advocates and food safety groups do not like this bill. The bill would preempt state and local laws that prohibit puppy mills, animal fighting, and the sale of meats from dogs, cats, and horses. And the bill would … [Read more...]

Safe Food Act of 2015 Introduced to Congress

Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the Safe Food Act of 2015 to Congress today. The legislation would consolidate federal food safety activities into one independent agency called the Food Safety Administration. Durbin and DeLauro have introduced this legislation in 1999, 2004, 2005, and 2007. Currently, oversight of the nation's food supply is split up among 15 different agencies. The Act states that since the safety of the food supply is vital to the public health and the economy, and lapses in the protection of food supply damage consumers and the industry, the safety and security of the food supply requires an integrated, systemwide approach to preventing foodborne illness. Sponsors of the bill hope that this consolidation would make the … [Read more...]

How Do Your Representatives Score on Food Policy?

Food Policy Action has released its Legislative Scorecard for the 113th Congress. It gives 71 members perfect scores, and 35 a score of zero. The grades were set based on how the Senators and Representatives voted on six specific bills relating to food safety, domestic hunger programs, animal welfare, nutrition, organic farming, and food accessibility and if they sponsored the eight related bills that did not come to a vote. The list of bills used on the Scorecard include the Senate's Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act of 2013 (PARA), the House's Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2013 (PAMTA) and the Grayson Food Safety Inspection Amendment. Tom Colicchio, FPA board member, said in a statement, "few things have as much of an impact on our lives as food. … [Read more...]

U.S. House Votes to Prevent Clean Water Act Expansion

The U.S. House voted on Monday to approve legislation that would prevent the development of regulations expanding the scope of the federal Clean Water Act. Groups such as the National Pork Producers Council supported this action, stating that the regulations would be detrimental to agriculture. The bill, HR 5078, entitled the "WOTUS Regulatory Overreach Protection Act" was sponsored by Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL). WOTUS stands for Waters of the United States. The EPA wanted to expand the Clean Water Act to include the country's water bodies, ditches, and gullies used by farmers for drainage and irrigation. Many farmers support the bill, stating that the EPA's regulations are burdensome. The Clean Water Act is one of the most successful laws in this country. Forty years ago, 2/3 of … [Read more...]

Public Officials Move to End Antibiotic Abuse on Factory Farms

On Tuesday, September 9, 2014, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the Berkeley City Council passed resolutions supporting national legislation to stop the abuse of antibiotics on factory farms. San Francisco is the first major city in California to pass such a resolution. Eighty percent of antibiotics used in this country are given to animals on factory farms for weight gain and to reduce the risk of illness in crowded and filthy conditions. These types of use create antibiotic resistant bacteria, called "superbugs", that cannot be destroyed by drugs. The bacteria make the leap to humans, making infections difficult or impossible to treat. Food & Water Watch commends these public officials for recognizing the urgency of the matter. The Berkeley resolution also supports … [Read more...]

California Will Require Paid Sick Leave for Restaurant Workers

The state of California may require paid sick leave for workers, which directly ties into food safety in restaurants. Legislation has been passed and Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign it. AB 1522, the Health Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 passed the state Senate with a 22-8 vote and the Assembly with a 52-25 vote. Restaurant workers who work while sick have caused many foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States. A study by the Food Chain Workers Alliance in 2012 found that more than half of all workers in the food industry work while they are sick because they cannot afford to take time off. In 2013, a study by the Environmental Health Specialists Network, a collaborative project of the CDC, FDA, and USDA, found that sick worker policies "may be an important … [Read more...]

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