Rules And Regulations

To address a question I received…

How can the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) possibly allow crap-filled meat to enter the market?

Well, the meat industry is regulated by the USDA (US Department of Agriculture), not the FDA. And unfortunately, the USDA is operating under a conflicted mission: to promote the sale of American beef on behalf of U.S. meat producers and, at the same time, guarantee its safety.

The USDA is also a very incestuous organization, employing former meat and dairy executives, then expecting them to regulate their former co-workers, friends, and cash cows (pun intended). In a 2004 article, “The Cow Jumped Over the USDA.,” Eric Schlosser wrote that, “you’d have a hard time finding a federal agency more completely dominated by the industry it was created to regulate.”

Even worse, the USDA has a “voluntary recall” policy in which the Federal Government does not have the authority to recall meat. Yes, you read that right. Our government can recall everything from car parts to toys, but not tainted meat. Instead, the USDA can make a recommendation to a supplier that its meat should be recalled and the supplier must recall its own product – and just how often do you think that happens?

Oh, and don’t forget that the USDA is severely underfunded. Even if they wanted to uphold legitimate safety standards, they are unable to provide enough inspectors to thoroughly check all of the meat-packing plants, and they’re using out-dated technologies to test for contaminations.

Coincidentally, there a food safety bill going through Congress right now which would give the FDA the authority to recall meat. Obviously, the meat industry is against it.

Colin Woodall, executive director of legislative affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said “meat producers are concerned about the precedent this bill could set in giving the Food and Drug Administration regulatory authority over the industry, which is currently watched over by the Department of Agriculture.” The cattlemen’s group takes issue with mandatory recalls and says voluntary recalls work better. “The industry worries that the bill would require government inspectors on farms,” Woodall said. We can only hope!!

“There is no need to have FDA inspectors come on farms or cattle operations,” Woodall said. “There are too many other processes and steps between the time it leaves the farm and gets to the consumer, including the way the consumer handles the product when they get it home. It would give a false sense of security to the consumer.” A false sense of security is what we already have. What we need now is some real security, starting with FDA inspectors in our meat-packing plants.

Dave Warner, a spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council, said his group has a number of concerns about the legislation, with on-farm inspections being among the top. “FDA doesn’t not have the personnel, and it doesn’t have the expertise,” he said. Ya, I’m sure he’s very concerned about the personnel issues at the FDA.

The meat industry makes VERY LARGE campaign contributions to Congressmen which, unfortunately for us, have been paying off for them. We’ll see what happens this time…
Breakfast: We had a “waffle-fest” at work this morning!
Lunch: Chipotle burrito bowl. If you get it meatless, you get FREE GUAC!
Dinner: Spaghetti and meatless-meatballs (from Trader Joe’s)


2 Responses to “Rules And Regulations”

  1. Thanks for explaining this- didn't realize the USDA, not the FDA, makes "recommendations" on meat recalls. Pretty messed up. What do you think the chances are of the food safety bill passing?

    Love those Chipotle veggie burrito bowls…I tell them to pile on the guac!

  2. Powered By Produce Says:

    I’m not sure about the liklihood of it passing, but it’s not necessarily a good thing if it does. The bill is actually more complicated than just what I mentioned above. In addition to giving the FDA authority over the meat industry, it also requires food manufacturers (including local farmers) to register with the FDA for a hefty fee. This part really worries me because it inadvertantly harms the people who are currently providing us safe, clean, humane food.

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