Recently, I sent Al Franken a letter expressing my concern about S.510. I received a reply and thought I would share it with you.
Here it is:
Thank you for contacting me about food safety. I appreciate you taking the time to share your concerns with me on this important issue.
While the U.S. food supply is one of the safest in the world, public health officials estimate that each year millions of people (including thousands of Minnesotans) become sick -- and thousands more die -- from foodborne illnesses. The current system relies too heavily on reacting to outbreaks after they have occurred, instead of preventing their occurrence in the first place. There's a lot of room for improvement.
That's why I introduced the Food Safety Enforcement Act. This bill would increase the sentences that prosecutors can seek for people who knowingly contaminate the nation's food supply and endanger Americans' lives. Companies that knowingly sell contaminated or unsafe food need to face serious consequences. In 2009, three Minnesotans died from contaminated peanut butter. Anyone who puts profits before safety is a criminal and needs to be prosecuted as such.
Minnesota is regarded as the national leader in early detection of foodborne diseases, and we have a long record of working effectively with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on food safety. However, the FDA does not currently have all the tools it needs to ensure the safety of our food. S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, builds on what works in Minnesota and would address many of these inadequacies. Overall, this bill would improve the safety and security of our food and enhance our foodborne illness surveillance systems.
While safety is of critical importance, it is equally important that Minnesotans are still able to go to their neighborhood farms and farmers' markets to purchase food directly from producers. As a member of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), I worked with Senator Merkley from Oregon to include provisions in S. 510 that ensure small farms and organic farmers would not be overburdened by this legislation. These changes ensure that small farms and markets would be exempt from any additional and duplicative food safety record keeping requirements under the bill.
On December 18, 2009, S. 510 was reported favorably out of the HELP Committee. As a member of this committee, I was proud to vote for it. The bill is now expected to come before the full Senate in the near future. As Congress finalizes food safety legislation, I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that any legislation will bring safer food to all Minnesotans.
Thank you again for contacting me, and I look forward to hearing from you in the future on this or any other matter of concern to you.
United States Senator
There you have it. Al Franken supports S.510 and claims provisions have been made which protect small orgaic farms.
Everyone, please email your local senators concerning S.510. Let's make sure provisions have been added to the bill so it actually protects our food. The government will do whatever they want if people do not speak up.