NCBA is urging members of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee to address troublesome issues in a proposed food safety bill before moving it forward. Introduced by Reps. John Dingell of Michigan and Henry Waxman from California , the bill would have a number of unintended consequences for the meat industry, according to NCBA.   

Among other things, the bill would authorize the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct on-farm inspections, undermining USDA’s existing regulatory authority over meat and poultry products. NCBA Manager of Legislative Affairs Kristina Butts said giving FDA this broad authority not only will be duplicative, it would present an economic burden for beef producers. The bill would require FDA to create a tracing system that could increase production and technology costs at the ranch level.

Butts said the proposed legislation also would give FDA authority to create farm safety standards for manure and animal control. These responsibilities currently are under the jurisdiction of other regulatory bodies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Interior and USDA.

The American Meat Institute (AMI) has expressed concerns with language in the bill that would give government control over a meat processing company’s hazard analysis and critical control point program. A letter from AMI to congressional leaders suggested it is not the proper role of government to establish the hazards and mandate preventive controls.

Members of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee passed the Food Safety and Enhancement Act of 2009 earlier this week on a voice vote. NCBA and AMI will continue to provide input on the bill as it goes to the full committee for mark-up the week of June 15.

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