From the archives: Food schmafety

Inspired by Effect Measure, I thought I’d dredge up an old snarky post since the Senate is about to join the House in gutting state food standards.

The bill would stop states from adding warnings that are different from federal rules. States currently add hundreds of extra warnings, indicating the presence of arsenic in water, mercury in fish, alcohol in candy, pesticides in vegetables and more.

So what justification does the repugnican congress have for removing warnings about the dangers of mercury to pregnant women, or the lead content of your kid’s candy?

“Consumers across the country deserve a single set of science-based food warning requirements, not the confusing patchwork that we have today,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.

But wait, I thought this was the party of state’s rights…..

“Food safety has been largely a matter of state law and oversight for well more than a century,” the attorneys general wrote.
State and local officials perform about 80 percent of all food safety enforcement in the United States, they said.

I’d wager those state guidelines exist because the federal ones are too vague to begin with, and each state has different priorities for their food: obviously Montana and Washington don’t need the same warning labels for salmon. The fish are going to be produced/processed in totally different manners and carry different health-associated risks. And since each state does 80% of the food testing, I am perfectly fine with differing standards because those standards are likely to be more stringent.

The GOP is in the pocket of corporations. They talk out one side of their mouth and vote from the other. So pass the tuna while I still know what’s in it. Family values, my ass.

On the upside, now that the House has already voted to remove these warning labels, these products will no longer cause cancer in the state of California.

And since the new law requires states to petition the Federal Government to add additional information, we can trust that the government will do the right thing by denying the petition, thereby preventing these chemicals from ever causing cancer again!


  1. #1 Carpus
    July 30, 2006

    Yeah. The party of ‘states’ rights’. I think that particular claim has long since landed in a large pile of horse manure. I can smell the stink from here …

  2. #2 Joe Shelby
    July 30, 2006

    The GOP is in the pocket of corporations.

    Both parties are in the pocket of corporations. They just have different ways of expressing it. If this measure makes it to a vote, don’t be surprised to see the Dems voting for it in large numbers.

    The corporations are actually not looking to increase sales by hiding potential “bad stuff”. Its to save money by not having to have different packaging processes for their stuff just because of the location it goes to. If, say, a Californian distributor starts running low of stuff but a surplus is sitting in a distributor’s warehouse in Montana, the company can’t just have that distributor shipped the stuff to California to make up the difference. They have to recall the Montana product, relabel the whole batch, and then they can ship it to California, all at great expense particularly with the gas prices where they are and the loss of all that paper labelling from the first batch. If any excess remains, it can’t go back to Montana without going through the same process over again.

    So it is expensive to maintain the different standards for companies that have centralized their manufacturing (something originally done, of course, to “save costs”).

    Alcohol is one of those items where federal labelling has already overtaken the state’s, and this was done mostly to save foreign suppliers money (not just German or Mexican beer, but more the hard liquior suppliers). The corporations are just asking that food within america be held to a similar standard.

    I partially agree, but I think the federal standard itself is far too weak, and anytime a republican says that something will be based on “sound science”, I know he’s lying.

  3. #3 Joe Shelby
    July 30, 2006

    Oddly, this is one of those instances where if the 17th amendment had never happened, this would have become a non-issue.

    With a Senate appointed by state governments and truly representing each state’s interests (they don’t; they now represent the people of each state which is not the same thing), they could have hashed out a common standard that acknowledges each state’s concerns and then the House and President could have just signed off on it if it wasn’t too extreme (that old checks and balances thing).

    but under the current system, the Senate remains not a means by which the states argue their cases but the just another layer for the “people” to be represented.

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