''Congress Shouldn't Weaken Food Safety Laws''


"Being a Minnesotan, Jeff Almer searched for a polite term to describe how he feels about a congressional push to roll back the new food safety laws his family fought for when his elderly mother died after eating ­salmonella-laced peanut butter in late 2008.

Almer, of Savage, initially settled on "ticked." But his rising anger at what's happening in Washington — where some Republican lawmakers are targeting the Food Safety Modernization Act as burdensome for business — quickly got the best of his Minnesota Nice, and he let loose with a "mad as hell."

Why are these politicians looking only at industry compliance cost concerns and not at the total cost to society of unsafe production practices, he wanted to know? In addition to families like his who have lost a loved one, there are people who are permanently disabled from foodborne diseases."


"Everyone eats. And everyone deserves a food safety system whose laws are geared toward how we get our groceries in the modern age — from large-scale growers, processors and supermarkets, and increasingly from overseas producers of fruits, vegetables and seafood.

Up to 15 percent of the food eaten in the United States each year is imported, according to Sandra Eskin of the Pew Charitable Trusts. That only about 2 percent of this food undergoes border inspections by the FDA is one of the safety gaps that the new law aims to fix.

The law has moved far too slowly through the process that turns laws into practical rules and regulations after Congress passes legislation. But when it is fully implemented, it will boost imported food's safety, increase food facility inspections and improve authorities' ability to trace contaminated food through today's long supply chains, ensuring that it's pulled off the shelf before it sickens people."


"There will certainly be snags and places for improvement as this sweeping new law rolls out. Lawmakers and industry should work with the FDA to make necessary changes during implementation — not try to gut the law and return to an antiquated, inadequate system.

"My mom died from those laws," Almer said. “Now somebody wants to go back to the beginning and start again? It's very frustrating."

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