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March 8, 2006

Making noise: Congressional vote on food warning labels
Posted by Teresa at 10:10 AM * 27 comments

From AP via Forbes:

Lawmakers seeking to curtail food warning labels have personal ties to food industry lobbyists, critics said Monday.

House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and several other lawmakers support a bill that would keep states from adding warnings that go beyond federal rules.

The lawmakers have family, friends and former staff among the lobbyists for the bill.

“This helps explain why the food industry has blocked any efforts to have hearings,” said Ben Cohen, attorney for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a watchdog group.

Feel like kicking the system to see if you can make it run better? The House of Representatives is voting today on the aforementioned bill to take warning labels off packaged food. You might want to phone your congresscritter.

Basically, this bill would overturn existing state food safety laws that are not “identical” to federal law. That’s a problem, because local and state officials are now responsible for 80% of the nation’s food safety enforcement. The change would affect hundreds of laws and regulations which enforce safe standards on things like milk and shellfish.

The effect would be to lower the bar on food safety. Federal laws enforcing shellfish safety in Iowa and Arizona are no match for the shellfish safety laws of Maryland.

Your chief resource: Consumers Union has put together an easy contact page, with a database of Representative contact info by zip code, plus some good talking points.

See also Julia at Sisyphus Shrugged, who tipped me off to this.

Comments on Making noise: Congressional vote on food warning labels:
#1 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 02:13 PM:

My congresscritter is going to be against this (it does help to be represented by one of the two liberals from Georgia).

This is nothing more than business as usual from the Republicans: States' rights when the states are weak, federal power used to override the states when they show they aren't weak.

#2 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 02:17 PM:

This is nothing more than business as usual from the Republicans

and businesses are to be protected from evil regulators at all levels of government.

#3 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 02:26 PM:

Dammit! Why does this stuff come up when my District is unrepresented!!!!

Darn Corzine for appointing Menendez to the Senate. He should have appointed...

Should have appointed...


A non-disgraced, non-corrupt (missed the boat on that one, Corzie), non-idiot New Jersey politician.

And while I'm wishing for that, I'd like a pony please. With wings.

#4 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 03:03 PM:

I heard about this on NPR the other day, but i have to say phoning my congressman won't help in this case.


His name is Roy Blunt Jr, R-Mo.

I hate my district sometimes.

#5 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 03:14 PM:

You should still call, Sisuile.

Don't let them get away with thinking they have a mandate.

#6 ::: Cynthia Wood ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 04:20 PM:

I'll be contacting my Congresscritter, though I have serious doubts as to him listening to reason. Nonetheless, we can but try.

Perhaps this next election we can get a new and better model...

#7 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 05:09 PM:

So where did the Republicans misplace States' Rights this time?

#8 ::: Anders ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 06:13 PM:

That is ridiculous, blatant corporate pandering

#9 ::: Mike Kozlowski ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 06:26 PM:

I am (I suppose) in favor of better labelling laws; but it strikes me as a much better idea to have them at the federal level than at individual levels. This is the sort of area where local regulation doesn't seem to make a lot of sense.

#10 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 06:31 PM:

Mike K: This would take out state laws that are stricter than the federal regs. That's probably the whole point. (They don't like CA's clean-air regs, and are trying to get those superseded also.)

#11 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 07:02 PM:

Scraps: 'States' rights' is a very flexible concept used by conservatives in two ways:

(1) to screw minorities.

(2) to screw everyone else.

Method (1) is pretty well known -- the 'right' of states to deny full rights to all its citizens.

Method (2) is to claim that states' rights are violated whenever federal law is used to regulate the behaviour of business and to completely ignore states' rights when state law regulates business more stringently than federal law.

#12 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 07:03 PM:

I suppose the Republicans are arguing that this is an interstate commerce issue....

#13 ::: Derryl Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 07:38 PM:

Frustrating to think that there's no one I could contact who would be willing to listen, being a foreigner and all. With Aidan's peanut allergy, visits to the US would look that much less appealing.


#14 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 09:02 PM:

Mike, if they wanted a uniform code of safety regulations, administered at the federal level, they could draft one. They haven't done so, and show no signs of starting. This bill would be a complete rollback of hundreds of state-level health and safety regulations, with nothing to replace them.

#15 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 09:05 PM:

Good question, Scraps. I think they took it down to the basement and stashed it behind Local Control.

#16 ::: Rebecca ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 10:38 PM:

Thank god for Trader Joes.

#17 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 01:58 PM:

I suppose the Republicans are arguing that this is an interstate commerce issue....

Yes! They are! Because, see, food is shipped across state lines, and it's darn burdensome to have to have one set of rules in Mississippi and another in California. It's much easier to force everyone to the lowest common denominator.

The point of this is pre-emption: to forbid states from making stronger regulations than the Federal government deems necessary. It's all about streamlining things for the food industry and freeing them from pesky state regulations.

Because it's much, much easier to buy off one Representative or Senator than to have to buy off a whole bunch of legislators in fifty states.

#18 ::: Mike Kozlowski ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 06:45 PM:

Teresa and PJ: Yes, that's true, and that's the downside of this. But the upside is, it replaces stupid patchwork local laws with rational, universal national laws.

(Just because conservatives aren't REALLY in favor of states' rights doesn't mean I'm not really opposed to them.)

#19 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 09:12 PM:

Mike: It replaces them when?

For the "Rational, universal" laws to replace laws being stripped from the books, don't they have to cover the same territory?

80% of the food safety laws would *go away*. That is vastly different from being replaced.

Trust me. I work in the office for a bakery. You don't want to have any kind of allergy or other food-related health issue if all that goes away. It's hard enough with all those regulations firmly in place (Here in Canada) to get allergen information and a complete breakdown of ingredients.

#20 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 10:04 PM:

The best you can find for allergen labelling in the US is something like 'made in a plant where wheat is used'. Or similar wording.

#21 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2006, 10:28 AM:

Well, now that they've got that out of the way, they're thinking of doing something similar to health insurance, removing state requirements to drop everyone to the lowest common denominator.

And what kinds of procedures are they targeting for such standardization? Why birth control and women's health, of course.

Quoting a press release

The Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act (HIMMAA), introduced by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) would allow insurance companies to ignore nearly all state laws that require insurance coverage for certain treatments or conditions, such as laws that require them to include contraceptives in their prescription plans.
"We need to move forward, not backward in expanding access to quality health care, including birth control," said Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards. "Congress should work to protect patients, not undermine them."
This federal legislation would raze hundreds of state laws that ensure patients can get the medical care they need and would
• not allow women to designate their ob/gyns as primary care providers
• not allow women to seek care directly from their ob/gyns, but would force them to be screened by their primary care doctors first
• dismantle coverage for contraception
• dismantle coverage for annual cervical cancer exams
• not allow women to stay with the same doctor throughout a pregnancy, if that doctor was dropped from the insurance provider
For years, many insurance plans covered prescription drugs, but refused to cover birth control pills and other prescription contraceptives for women. In the past decade lawmakers in 23 states have remedied this inequity and enacted contraceptive coverage laws. Under HIMMAA women will lose contraceptive-equity protections currently guaranteed by state law.

#22 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2006, 07:00 PM:


Unfortunately kosher certification doesn't call out wheat starch or eggs or other ingredients that are kosher and pareve... the stricter ones do note dairy ingredients, meat and meat byproducts, etc. Jell-O gets a kosher certification from some non-strict authorities because of the amount of processing involved... the odors that used to come from the Jell-O factory in Woburn that's just west of I-93 and south of the Montvale Avenue exit, indicated quite clearly that what went into that factory, was not "edible".... bones and hooves of animals, with rotting meat on them. The odor used to be really really really vile.

The level of processing involved, was not sufficient to prevent Jell-O from being poisonous to Jay Haldeman, who had developed severe allergic reactions to eating meat and meat by-products, however.


I wonder if there is any way to sue Republicraps or their fund contributors for wrongful death for the deaths of women and girls from botched illegal abortions? [For that matter, for wrongful death from people who die from food poisoning/allergic reactions to unlabelled food ingredients..] (There is at least one person now in jail for a long long time for killing a fetus, a couple who couldn't obtain a legal abortion, tried cruder methods at home, one or both convicted of "murdering" a fetus.... strange that the Biblical literalist sorts who are always using the Bible as their Moral Authority, don't follow the only parts of it that talk about abortion.... ).

Quoting a Nixon-era bumper sticker:

"Don't blame me, I'm from Massachusetts."

#23 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 08:20 PM:

Topical spam here (which is funny twice)

#24 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 09:47 PM:

trying one time my KOMBUCHA

Do I have to?

#25 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 10:12 PM:

My landlord was talking up kombucha a few weeks ago; the local food co-op had it on discount til the end of the month. This particular company (the kombucha distributors) flavored it with ginger, green tea, and citrus (original flavor was also available). At a discount, it was cheaper than restaurant beer (without the discount, it was roughly equivalent). Supposedly had anti-oxidants, all the helpful bacteria that yogurt has, and some of their cousins. I liked it, but I haven't gone out and got more of it.

#27 ::: TexAnne sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 05:29 PM:

Another incompetent feeler.

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