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Good morning folks.Please only recommend this diary if you think others should see the information I'm posting.

Last week I came here and shared with you the release of our new report, "America for Sale: The Costs of Republican Corruption" exposing how the Republican leadership is selling out interests of American taxpayers by allowing their friends from drug companies and oil and mining industries to write our legislation.

Well the selling out of America continues in Congress.  This week, lobbyists representing giant food producers are having their Republican friends in Congress ram through the House a bill that will undermine the efforts of states like California's to improve the safety and quality of the food consumed in their communities. The legislation, just like other recent GOP legislation (Clear Skies Initiative anyone?), is cynically titled, the "National Uniformity for Food Act." (H.R. 4167).  This legislation would eliminate almost every state and local law that provides greater consumer protection than our limited federal food safety laws.

Here is an editorial from the New York Times this morning on this bill:
The driving force behind the bill seems to be the challenge to industry forces posed by California, which is leading the way in demanding consumer warnings about mercury levels in fish, lead in calcium supplements and other hazards. Other states have followed suit. Proponents of the bill in the food industry and Congress claim that their goal is being misunderstood. If so, they should pull the bill back and prove their case at open hearings that treat the public interest as something more than a nonentity.
This legislation which will make American consumers more vulnerable to some of the more horrific practices of our food industry and will have consequences just like the costs of Republican corruption we detail in America for Sale: The Cost of Republican Corruption.

Here is one specific example of exactly how this legislation is going to hurt average Americans who live next door to you.

Think about the meat you buy every week in your local grocery stories.  Right now, the Bush FDA says it's OK for the meat companies to lace our meat with carbon monoxide.
If some of the meat in supermarkets is looking rosier than it used to, the reason is that a growing number of markets are selling it in airtight packages treated with a touch of carbon monoxide to help the product stay red for weeks.

This form of ''modified atmosphere packaging,'' a technique in which other gases replace oxygen, has become more widely used as supermarkets eliminate their butchers and buy precut, ''case-ready'' meat from processing plants.

The reason for its popularity in the industry is clear. One study, conducted at Oklahoma State University for the Cattlemen's Beef Board in 2003, said retailers lost at least $1 billion a year as meat turned brown from exposure to oxygen, because, though it might still be fairly fresh and perfectly safe, consumers simply judged meat's freshness by its color.

The carbon monoxide is itself harmless at the levels being used in the treated packaging. But opponents say that the process, which is also used to keep tuna rosy, allows stores to sell meat that is no longer fresh, and that consumers would not know until they opened the package at home and smelled it. Labels do not note whether meat has been laced with carbon monoxide.
The "Food Uniformity Act" would prevent states from stopping this practice if they decided thay didn't want its citizens eating meat laced with carbon monoxide.

This has got to stop.  Again as the Times mentioned above there hasn't been any open hearing on this bill in Congress talking about such concerns such as presence of dangerous chemicals such as carbon monoxide in our meat, mercury in our fish, arsenic in our bottled water.  The bill is basically being rammed through this Congress again just like the Medicare bill and other legislations passed by this Republican Congress.  This is yet another example of how the Republican leaders in Congress are selling out the interests of average Americans working hand in hand with their friends in big corporations without caring much for  input from scientists and experts in that industry genuinely committed to developing sound public policy.

So, if you get a chance, please call your representative in the House today and let them know you will hold them accountable for if they vote for this legislation selling out America to the giant food industries poisoning our food.  The choice for my colleagues is simple.  Are they going to finally stand up for average Americans who are bearing the brunt of Republican culture of corruption or are they going to continue to sell out American to their special friends in big industries writing our legislation? Hold them accountable over this legislation today.

Thank you again for all your words of encouragement and making me feel so welcome in this community.  I am set to have a long day on the Hill this morning and afternoon with multiple hearings including a big one on lobbying reform.  So I may not be able to respond to your comments today, however please do provide your feedback because I will be making sure to reading all of your thoughts in response to my posts.  As I wrote last week your suggestions and feedback are invaluable to our work in the Rules Committee as try to incorporate lot of your ideas into our work on the Hill. Thanks again. - LMS

Originally posted to Rep Louise Slaughter on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 06:00 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Recommended! (4.00)
    Thank you, as always, Rep. Slaughter.

       And, with due respect, regarding


    Please only recommend this diary if you think others should see the information I'm posting.

      we know how this works already - thanks.

    I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down.'- Bob Newhart

    by condoleaser on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 06:00:28 AM PST

    •  Recommended as well ... (none)
      Time to jamm up those Hill phone lines.
      •  this is very important (4.00)
        I'm so glad this made the Rec List. A couple diaries have been posted calling for action on this, but I was sad to see they were pretty much overlooked. Here are the links to them, because they both include more information.

        •  By the way (4.00)
          I wrote one of those diaries. Action Alert; National Uniformity for Food Act received 9 recommendations and my comment still sits at (none/1). I worked hard to get out this message.

          I'm happy to see it posted by someone with some juice around here. Maybe the NATIONAL UNIFORMITY FOR FOOD ACT gets proper scrutiny now.

          I don't mean to sound bitter. There is so much on our plates and so many diary authors covering so many screwings by our representatives that items like this tend to just dive down the Recent Diaries list. However I wouldn't mind if someone went back to my diary from yesterday and voted on my comment so I have a little more to show for the effort than (none/1)

          I'm watching the session on CSPAN and our guys sound good but judging by the number of co-sponsors, the National Uniformity for Food Act sounds like a done deal.

          On the bright side is the fact that the House bill does not yet have a Senate companion. Maybe a little exposure will get our Senators to put aside the food industry campaign donations and acknowledge the people.

        •  None of those diaries are mine, but (none)
          I think you really need to be commended for taking the time to put those links out there.  Too often people write really informative diaries that get ignores, and subsequently, someone else will then write about the subject, make recommended, and not include any links to previous diaries.   On important topics, all the diaries come together to tell the story.  Kudos to you.   The other day, Peeder posted a diary on something that I thought was good but was rapidly sliding into the diary hole.  I wrote a follow up diary on it called "Pimping Peeder's Diary" that basically provided his link and told people to go read it.  I never posted it, but I probably should have.

          Dean speaks for me!

          by dkmich on Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 02:16:06 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Upton Sinclair ... (none)
    and this is not fiction. Unbelievable stuff.  Thanks for coming here and letting us know Congresswoman.  I will be calling my Congressman today.
    •  Is it me (none)
      BUt by the time Republicans are done screwing up America, most liberals would have read loads of classic literature?

      A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

      by Tux on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 11:24:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I do not like how the GOP-controlled (4.00)
    government is infringing upon states' rights like this.  Is this Constitutionally legal for Congress to be doing this? Can they usurp states rights like this?

    If this keeps up states will have no rights whatsoever.  This is not what the Founding Fathers had in mind for our great country.

    If the people lead, the leaders will follow.

    by Mz Kleen on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 06:04:37 AM PST

    •  Effin hypocrites ... (4.00)
      These guys are only for state rights - when it is conveninent for them.  Bush v. Gore.
      •  hypocrites!! (4.00)
        This is the OPPOSITE of "family values" and "culture of life". (not that we haven't already established overwhelmingly that those phrases are meaningless but let me throw more dung in the heap...) The effects of lead in calcium supplements and especially mercury in fish are most disastrously felt by fetuses when consumed by pregnant women. When I was pregnant, I was advised to take 6 or more calcium tablets per day, since if pregnant women do not consume enough calcium, a fetus will ensure it still gets enough by leaching it out from my bones causing potentially permanant damage (one of many reasons why when you are pregnant, your body is not your own anymore). Unfortunately, taking that many pills, if there were any lead in them, that could cause serious birth defects. Mercury I don't even have to explain why that is a huge deal during pregnancy.

        Don't you dare do anything to harm or kill your fetus (even if you were a victim of rape/incest!), we'll let corporate America do that for you because they threw us some bribes to avoid the extra work of putting an extra 1 sentence on their labels! "Brilliant!"

        Arg, I'm mad as hell!!

        Francine Busby for Congress! (CA-50)

        by reid fan on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 07:57:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  One of the lobbyists (4.00)
      pushing for this is Rick Berman of Berman & Co.  Yesterday, I posted part one of a three part diary series titled, "Another Lobbyist Worth Investigating", that concentrates on him and his efforts.  Today's installment, which I will be posting this morning, includes a reference to this very bill (HR4167).  If you are interested in the background and workings of this lobbyist, please take a moment and check it out.  

      "You can have your own opinion, but you can't have your own set of facts." - Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) 1/25/06

      by Ellicatt on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 06:37:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Probably (none)

      I'm generally a big fan of a very narrow interpretation of the Interstate Commerce clause, but in terms of being a legitimate regulation of interstate commerce, it's dead on.

      Now, whether it's a good idea, that's another matter...

      •  Well, Congress can regulate interstate commerce (none)
        but the states can determined how things are labelled, as the states have the right and power, through the legislature, as to the health and welfare of its citizens.

        Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

        by StrayCat on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 07:33:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  40 Democrats support this bill (none)
      We need their names and need to holdf them accountable as well.

      "False language, evil in itself, infects the soul with evil." ----Socrates

      by Mimikatz on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 10:36:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Frankly speaking ... (4.00)
    GBW thinks by issuing a 'signing statement', he can either circumvent or modify the will of the Congress as expressed in law, which is pure BS if one only looks at the Constitution.

    Yet the Constitution empowers states to regulate commerce within their own boundaried, just not to interfere with interstate commerce.

    I would love to see the states, or any state, on any issue, stand up to the Congress and the President and say, "Kiss it!"  And then let it play out in the courts.

    For too long, the Executive and the Congress have usurped the rights and perogatives of the states.  No, I am not talking about civil rights or anything like that ... just the rights of the states to determine their own policies as to eductation, as to environmental protection, as to demanding certain standards of any entity operating within the state (usually a standard higher than the federal standard), as to GM issues, as to forest issues, as to many, many things -- including a state's right to demand food labeling that may exceed Federal standards.

    Keep up the good fight, Ms. Slaughter. States vs Federal aside, you are one of the good ones ... a 'keeper':)

    Life is not a 'dress rehearsal'!

    by wgard on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 06:09:00 AM PST

  •  please recommend this IMPORTANT diary (4.00)

    this is going to impact +everyone+.  don't let them degrade the quality and safety of our food.

    cheers --

  •  We don't call you Slaughter (4.00)
    for nothin'!   Keep up the fight, Louise, don't let them get a shot in edgewise.

    I suggest the Republicans should give up corruption for Lent.  x;-)

    "What do I think of Western civilization? I think it would be a very good idea." Mohandas Gandhi

    by x on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 06:15:26 AM PST

  •  Your Link Broken (4.00)

    How nice to have a representative who actually seems to be a representative. I can't tell you how refreshing it is to have someone listen. I can't speak for anyone else here but I have had so many depressing experiences trying to call senators or reps and getting only young, incompetent, rude, disinterested or arrogant aides, who can't wait to get you off the phone.

    So thanks again for apeaking directly to us. Just wanted to let you know also that the link to the House directory is broken.

  •  We should go further (4.00)
    Now that they bring it up...

    How about bringing our beef up to the standards of Europe and Japan? I.e. BSE testing every single head?

    How about requiring real dates on everything...i.e. slaughter dates on meat, catch dates on fish, harvest dates on eggs...What Budweiser calls "born on" dating.

    How about finally banning the practice of coloring meat with red dye? How about accurate ingredients lists on everything for a change? How about marking whether things have been frozen or not?

    How about telling us how our sausage is made, there, Warshington? Are we sleeping easy as it is?

    •   You are absolutely right (none)
       It used to be we could trust our food with the USDA labels. Now when I see a product in the grocery store, I wonder, "Who was bought off? Is this a safe food?"

        Our safety net is full of holes.  BSE, mercury in fish, pesticides in foods that children eat a lot, sodium nitrate and Rumsfeld's child, aspartame. I could go on and on.

        I feel like some ranting crazy woman at the grocery store if my husband tags along, telling him what is REALLY in a particular food.  FDA and USDA seem more like PR firms for big agriculture corporations.

      Why did we bother to beat the Soviet Union if we were just going to become it? Molly Ivins

      by offred on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 02:17:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The House phone number link (none)
    is faulty.

    Perhap start with this link and use the search on that page:

  •  food labeling (none)
    Good Morning Rep. Slaughter,

    This is an everyday bread & butter issue, thanks for the diary on it. There is a New York Times editorial on this issue today as well.

    I DO judge meat for purchase by the way it looks. How can anyone say with a straight face that you shouldn't do that and must rely on the label expiration date? Since meat is all sealed up you can't smell it, so there's literally no other way except by sight to tell it might not be fresh. Sure, you will be able to smell it when you get home (and are ready to cook it), but then you have to return to the store if there's a problem. Thats a hassle.

    Im really disgusted with the Congress on food standards and labeling laws, including the organic label laws and country of origin laws. I couldn't care less if a labeling law is onerous to food companies. TOO BAD. If putting some extra text on a label is too much trouble these big food  conglomerates they shouldn't be in the food business. Period.

    •  A suggestion (none)
      While you're at the store, and assuming you can find someone from the meat department, ask them to remove the plastic wrap so you can smell if it's rotten or not.  That would be still be a hassle, but less of a hassle than finding out at home and having to go back to the store.

      Being called vindictive and partisan by Tom DeLay is like being called ugly by a frog. -- Ronnie Earle

      by John H on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 07:02:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Judging by appearance can be fishy (none)
      A friend who owned a retail fish market for 18 years and later worked (very briefly) for wholesale fish market was opening my eyes yesterday about the inner workings of the fishing industry.  Among other things, he mentioned "fish dip" sold by a couple of major chemical companies which is used to mask the common signs of aging fish.  

      For an extended period of time fillets will look and smell fresh, then suddenly turn putrid, just like Dorian Grey when his portrait is destroyed.

      We can not  trust our gov't to protect the quality of our food any more than we can trust corporatists to "do the right thing".

      •  nice. (none)
        Dorian Grey, lol! Fish is different. I mostly rely on frozen fish / shellfish and then only specific brands - like Phillips Seafood (east coast). Unfrozen has to come from a place that has had consistent quality for me in the past. "Fresh" fish like tilapia, flounder and catfish can look great but be all slimy and nasty when ya open it or taste terrible when you cook it (and I dont mean from my cooking, heh!).

        You can inspect and buy unsealed meat at one of the main grocery store chains here (Farm Fresh) but it also costs a lot more than the packaged meats. Another thing...not all grocery stores are alike, some have consistent higher quality meat so I buy that part of my groceries from them. Like Farm Fresh or Trader Joes. If you shop for groceries with any frequency you get to know where in your area to find good meat, fish and produce. And you learn to avoid buying from those places who don't.

  •  Turn it around (4.00)
    if the Rethugs think that the Fed Gov can restrain the individual states from holding food producers to a higher standard, why not write a bill that would prevent red state theocrats from going their own way on abortion. Call it the "National Abortion Uniformity Act"

    I'm confused. I thought the Rethugs were champions of "State's Rights". Perhaps I was misinformed. Seems as though all they really care for is hypocritical double standards that only they can benefit from.

    Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

    by drewfromct on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 06:33:44 AM PST

  •  George and Laura Bush only eat organic (4.00)
    according to wonkette.

    But it is okay for everyone else to eat pesticides, harmful chemicals and toxic ingredients, that's compassionate conservatism for you.

  •  State's Rights (none)
    Most of these characters are the ideological descendants of state's rights advocates. Now more decentralized decision making is destroyed, and with it local democracy, in the name of more profits for the corrupt.

    They are OK with state's rights only if they are used for evil purposes, as in South Dakota right now.  

  •  Thank you! (4.00)
    I had been hoping that this important issue would get some coverage here- and your diary was both excellent and much needed.

    Others may have also said this, but...this is just one more sad example of the dilution of States' rights, in an area where they are setting an example the rest of the Nation would do well to follow.

    Just as California led the way on enviromentalism and is being punished for that leadership, other States that are more in tune with the issues at hand will be silenced if this legislation passes.

    All for the benefit of large corporations, who don't want to see anything stand in the way of maximizing profits- well-being of the Nation or it's citizens be damned. All hail the mighty dollar and unbridled capitalism!

    Or, not. But only if we make sure our voices are not only heard, but listened to.

  •  an important issue (4.00)
    My wife has celiac (sp) disease; it is ESSENTIAL that she knows the ingredients of what she eats, as trace amounts of things, which may well be harmless to the vast majority of the population, can cause her severe distress.

    When liberals saw 9-11, we wondered how we could make the country safe. When conservatives saw 9-11, they saw an investment opportunity.

    by onanyes on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 06:54:28 AM PST

    •  Worse than distress (4.00)
      any glutens at all will cause an autoimmune response that eats away the lining of the small intestine, making nutrient absorption difficult to impossible over time.

      It is very difficult to be a celiac with current labeling laws. I have a friend with that problem and she has to go on these sites where they discuss which products end up giving them problems or not, but it varies.

  •  Thank you Rep. Slaughter for your work on this (4.00)
    With your examples, you bring it right down to the specifics that impact peoples lives and what the cost of selling our legislation to corporations truly is.

    When will individuals regain the rights that this administration consistently cedes to corporations???!!!

  •  Feeling A Bit Desperate (4.00)
    I buy the majority of our meat (and eggs, when my own chickens aren't laying) from a local supplier. I get grassfed dairy products from another local supplier. With the National Animal ID legislation on deck, however, the little guys - even me with my four birds! - are going to be taken out of the equation because it'll be cost prohibitive and labor (paperwork) intensive. This is a big deal, and I feel this new legislation is somehow tied to NAIS, however delicately.

    I try very hard to feed myself and my family the cleanest food we can afford, which means we go without a lot of other things. Our general health has improved noticeably; my kids are much more themselves when freed from preservatives and additives. If my local suppliers go out of business, where am I going to get my food? I won't be able to do it myself - the Feds will have gotten my chickens already and I don't have space for a cow or hogs, even if I could afford them. I can grow my own vegetables, but they're at the risk of being contaminated by GM seed, if they haven't been already. GMOs are a huge experiment, and we're the guinea pigs (with apologies to my guinea pig, Chewbacca).

    I really, REALLY resent our choices being taken away in the name of "safety" and, in the case of NAIS, "national security". This is what we put in our bodies.

    I've become cynical to the point where I believe that this is being done on purpose to keep us enslaved to Big Food, Big Pharma (for when food makes us sick), and Big Health Care (for when it eventually kills us). Using this same rationale I was ableto quit smoking cold turkey - whenever I thought about smoking, I'd remind myself that the bastards were trying to kill me and that was enough.

    With food.. it ain't that easy.

    Recommended, and I've called my rep.

    Low-power = high-impact... WRFU-LP FM

    by LBK on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 07:05:14 AM PST

  •  Rep. Slaughter (4.00)
    Honestly, thank you very much for your interest in this. Sometimes I think that you, Rep.Conyers, and a handfull of others are our only fully awake representatives, the rest have Qualudes in the morning instead of coffee. This reminds me of the pressure put on dairy producers to keep them from advertising that their product is hormone free.
  •  Thank you Congresswoman Slaughter (none)
    I am calling my Representativer Barbara Lee just to add to her tally of No votes.  Of course, she will vote against reducing these important protections on food making it possible for corps to get more profits.  Where is this going to end?
  •  Do State's Rights Exist Anymore? (4.00)
    I thought the U.S. Constitution reserved all rights not specifically granted to the Federal goverenment, for the states and the citizens.

    "Regulating interstate commerce" does not mean prempting State laws for consumer protection.

    This is CLASS WAR, and the other side is winning.

    by Mr X on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 07:21:21 AM PST

  •  Thank you Congresswoman Slaughter. (4.00)
    This is an important issue. I think at the heart of this issue is factory farms. Food corporations want to plant factory farms everywhere they can, polluting the land and selling under-quality goods. There is nothing healthy about this.

    The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund in Pennsylvania is doing its best to fight the factory farms that are putting thousands of small farmers out of work and creating pollution so horrible that some local Lebanon County residents had to go to motels to escape the factory hog farm smells a while back. Their behavior is CRIMINAL and should be prosecuted. Why do corporations get away with this?

    It's been shown that small farms not only do not create the pollution of factory farms, they also produce higher quality goods and care for the environment rather than destroy it with chemicals.

    This article about the efforts of CELDF and local farmers in saving the sustainable family farm illustrates the disgraceful tactics used by these food corporations to get what they want -- unfettered access to pollute and sell chemical-laden food.

    Underhanded efforts to undermine our democracy by corporations must stop.

    Corporations are NOT people and should not have the same rights as people. Please, Congresswoman Slaughter, I'd like to see corporate power over individuals come to a halt. It must stop!

  •  Rethug policy in action (none)
    I understand perfectly well the intent behind this bill - they want to make it easier for giant food packagers to label their products by trumping the various state requirements.  These manufacturers don't want to have to keep track of every labeling requirement for the states they sell in, which is great from a business perspective.

    The problem is this bill reduces product labeling to the lowest common denominator, and in the process it degrades consumer protection - all in the name of corporate profit (surprise, surprise).

    I guess in rethug fantasyland Big Bidness is without reproach, making government oversight a waste of time, while individuals need to be minded like sheep to make sure they don't sell their souls to the devil.

    Being called vindictive and partisan by Tom DeLay is like being called ugly by a frog. -- Ronnie Earle

    by John H on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 07:29:36 AM PST

  •  Thank you sincerely, (4.00)
    Rep. Slaughter for all your hard work on this.
  •  My diary (4.00)
    Action Alert; National Uniformity for Food Act. There was one by WaitingForLefty on Tuesday. I also looked into this removal of states rights on Mon Jan 23.

    80 different food safety laws in 37 states would be repealed.

    Even the MSM is pissed at this one. Yesterday the NYT gave us Bill May Undo States' Rules on Safe Food and today the editors have The Abusive New Federalism.

    After a murky legislative process distinguished by a lack of any public hearing, the House is ready to rush to approve a special-interest measure for the food industry today. The bill would pre-empt all state food safety regulations that are more protective than federal standards.

    It's not just the Republicans that are throwing you a screwing this time. Plenty of members of the Peoples Party are sucking up to the food industry as well.

    A bipartisan majority behind this clearly dangerous bill is echoing the industry's line that the goal is simply to end consumers' confusion about varying state regulations that govern warning labels and protective inspections.

    The driving force behind the bill seems to be the challenge to industry forces posed by California, which is leading the way in demanding consumer warnings about mercury levels in fish, lead in calcium supplements and other hazards. Other states have followed suit. Proponents of the bill in the food industry and Congress claim that their goal is being misunderstood. If so, they should pull the bill back and prove their case at open hearings that treat the public interest as something more than a nonentity.

    According to the Center for Food Safety;

    Here is how the bill works.  Under the guise of promoting "uniformity" of food safety laws in the U.S., the bill requires all state food safety laws to be identical to the requirements of the Federal Food and Drug Administration.  If the FDA has not passed a regulation on a food threat, then all state regulations on that threat would immediately be voided.  And, since the states regulate many food safety issues not covered by the FDA, many food safety laws will be voided and replaced with no law at all.

    I'm watching the session on CSPAN now and they just started debating.

    •  Killing Us! (4.00)
      The bill's preemptive language is sweeping in its scope, stating: State or political subdivision of a State may, directly or indirectly, establish or continue in effect under any authority any notification requirement for a food that provides for a warning concerning the safety of the food, or any component or package of the food, unless such a notification requirement has been prescribed under the authority of this Act and the State or political subdivision notification requirement is identical to the notification requirement prescribed under the authority of this Act.

      This legislature seems to be an attack on California's Prop. 65. A progressive law, that has protected many Californians from exposure to harmful chemicals in food, workplace and environment.

      Many national food brands, in adhering to California regulations have released food safety information nationwide to avoid separate labeling. If this law passes food processors can go back to keeping consumers in the dark!

      According to a story in yesterday's New York Times, Bill May Undo States' Rules on Safe Food, Prop 65 has also led to the reduction of arsenic in bottled water and lead in calcium supplements nationwide and has prompted the FDA to tighten federal standards over the years.

      In a letter opposing the bill, the Association of Food and Drug Officials, an organization of state regulators, said that proponents of the bill had misinterpreted it and that it extended well beyond uniform labeling. "Under this bill," it said, "a state cannot have any law, not just a food law, which is not identical to the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act."

      The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture also opposes the bill. In a letter to members of the House, the president of the association, J. Carlton Courter III, said the bill "threatens existing food safety programs," including milk, retail food protection and shellfish sanitation. About 80 percent of food safety inspections in the United States are conducted at state and local levels.

      This obvious sell out to the food industry, taking away the rights of  state and local governments to protect the people, places every American at risk. If you consider the way the FDA handled Mad Cow, it places us in grave danger.

  •  Going backwards (none)
     This is insanity. At a time when we need to be demanding more disclosure regarding things like GM foods, we find that the government in place is selling out to corporate interests and making a mockery out of our past efforts to have minimum food safety and disclosure.
     Who do we trust going forward? Corporate America will not police itself. It will do just the opposite. It will put the onus on the individual to test his own food and will beat him in court in any challenge. It has done so in the case of BST in milk. It will not even recognize it.
     A strong case can be made that there is insufficient disclosure now. Carbon monoxide packaging is a devious cosmetic trick, but what about the use of antibiotics, growth hormones, preservatives, artificial flavorings and the myriad chemical, money making, additives? That's not saying anything about the pollutants that corporate America dumps into the food we are sold. We need to know everything we can.
     This is dead wrong. It is impossible for individuals to monitor the safety of their food. We have recognized this many moons ago. Lifting trade barriers is one thing but lifting existing disclosure and safety standards is a whole other matter. It's immoral to the highest degree.
     One only has to look at what is being fed to the soldiers in Iraq. We cannot accept that as normal behavior.


  •  Recommended! (4.00)
    And thanks for the heads up, Louise.  I wrote to Reynolds, as if that will do any good at all:(  Keep on fighting for us.  And see if you can get somebody to run against Reynolds this year, ok?
  •  The issue is local as well (none)
    In every State, the mechanisms for maintaining high standards of proper hygiene and health at restaurants, hotels and other food preparation facilities are constantly under pressure from industry interest groups.

    This is not necessarily a partisan issue, but requires the vigilance of all of us at the local level.

    But lack of sufficient funding at the State level for these crucial 'mundane tasks' is just one more by-product of the Bush economy.

    "Rovus Vulgaris Americanus" nasty, soon-to-be-indicted co-conspirator -7.63, -9.59

    by shpilk on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 08:35:25 AM PST

  •  I heard about this via an e-mail list... (none)
    ...and signed the petition against it!

    My congresscritter's Betty McCollum, so I'm sure she'll vote against this turkey.  But I signed and sent her a note, just to be sure.

    Looks like we're already having an effect -- the vote's been delayed a week. (That means we push harder!)

  •  This issue smells fishy (none)

    People, we should support the right initiatives, but not for the wrong reason. Rhetoric about "carbon-monoxide-laced meat" will become nothing more than fodder for the right-wingers, and rightfully so, because the real issue is not whether meat has been 'laced' with CO, but whether this is used to disguise bad meat by keeping it in carbon monoxide.

    This particular framing of the issue smells just as bad as the old "hydrogen dioxide" prank. Come on, folks, we can make the right arguments for the right causes, we don't need misleading ones! It's the issue of truth in labelling and the states' control thereof, not of CO-lacing of food products.

  •  NJ editorial on food safety labeling (none)
    Take food safety off the table
    Thursday, March 02, 2006

    States have long had their own food safety or labeling regulations, often tougher than federal standards. That's good for consumers, but the proliferation of rules is a hassle for the food industry.

    Business doesn't like to make different labels, and it hates the idea that one state or another might bar, say, treating meat with carbon monoxide gas to keep it an attractive red longer.

    The industry says legislation limiting states' ability to deviate from the federal standard, up for a vote in the House of Representatives today, would assure uniformity. It claims consumers get "confused" when states have different standards.

    Baloney. This one-size-fits-all law could leave consumers nationwide with the lowest common denominator of protection, as one environmental group puts it.

    States have long been able to better safeguard their residents than Washington when it comes to food, just as they can place stronger controls on air pollution or gun purchases. The food lobby hasn't made a convincing case that this should change.

  •  Thanks for getting this info out there (none)
    I am realy tired of industry groups getting the green light to GUT comsumer and environmental protections. Are we that short sighted? Don't the folks getting paid off to make these collusions understand they are damning their own selves and children to a life of dimished health and welfare? We all live in the same world, breath the same air, drink the same water...

    Where is the outrage? It's up to our Reps to bring this out - this is harmful to the American people and it's not getting play in the media.  Are there other creative ways to get around the corporate media apologists?

    Here's a way to pressure Congress into providing the oversight needed - SIGN the DCCC petition to demonstrate support for the Democratic Ethics Reform package.  Support progressive Democratic candidates for Congress.  Fix Congress in '06!

    "These are the times that try men's [and women's] souls." - The Crisis, December 23, 1776

    by TPaine on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 08:59:59 AM PST

  •  Did my part, felt GOOD! (4.00)
    Sent a quick email to my Congressman, Bob Etheridge, and called his office as well.

    Took five minutes, felt good.


    From the fools gold mouthpiece
    The hollow horn plays wasted words

  •  Blumenauer against (none)
    This morning Earl Blumenauer (OR-3) was on Thom Hartmann, and was very vocally opposing this legislation.  He said that the opposition is growing, and as a result the vote was being put off until next week.

    Here is a list of the 226 co-sponsors that need to get an earfull (sp?) from us.

  •  Hence (none)
    the term soylent green.
  •  Sorry, Rep Slaughter (4.00)
    You may be absolutely right that  there are a lot of agregious items in the HR4167 bill (the link to  it did not work when I tried) , but I think you are in danger of being seen as pandering to poison fears with  the carbon monoxide (CO) meat scare pitch/tactic.

    I don't think you are on strong gound claiming/implying that CO treatment per se poisons meat.  You should get advice from  a food or biochemist (or a trusted butcher) about the use and safety of CO  before going out on a limb and making on this specific 'CO-treatment' issue the poster child symbol of what is wrong with the bill. It could lessen the strength of the other elements of your argument against this bill.

    Certainly, CO is a cosmetic treatment to make meat look pretty and stay red.  It does so by binding tightly and almost irreversibly to the myoglobin (a hemoglobin-like oxygen carrying molecule that is present in muscle tissue) in meat, and causing  the myoglobin to stay bright red due to harmless levels of bright red myoglobin-CO complex formation.

    Freshly killed meat is red because the oxygenated myoglobin-O2 complex in the muscle tissue has a bright red  color. As the the meat stands in air the oxygen reversibly dissociates from myoglogbin-O2 complex, and when the myoglobin-O2 complex  gives up its O2, the color of uncomplexed myoglobin becomes brown. Those who have butchered deer know this surface darking/browning of meat (due to dissociation  of oxy-myoglobin to O2 + myoglobin on surface of meat) happens quickly (within a day or less under refrigeration in open air) in no way indicates spoilage of the meat. Ever see what aged prime beef l

    But brown meat doesn't look as pretty or appetizing to buyers. CO is a much more safer   cosmetic treatment to the older alternatives (pure O2, sulfites, nitrates, nitrites, etc, which I think are all still legal in meats with labeling, but are probably also surreptuously used by cheating meat processors, and will be moreso again if CO is outlawed) of making meat cosmetically appealing in the display case.

    IMO, the best things any food safety bill can have is

    1. more federal/state food safety inspectors to  test for compliance and enforce existing food dating and labeling laws.
    2. more federal/state food safety inspectors to  test for compliance and enforce future food dating and labeling laws.  
    •  Any more specific ideas? (none)
      It sounds as if you know a lot about this stuff.

      Could you list the top 3 existing standards that you know about that should be enforced, aren't being enforced, and deal with stuff that would truly repulse the average consumer? (E.g., nothing especially technical; something that really leads to scary food.)

      •  My spouse used to work in a state food safety (none)
        agency, and most the regulatory end of things I just absorbed through osmosis from her 'today-at-work' conversation at the dinner table.  

        But if you can find me a working/alternative link to the HR4167 bill (the Thomas link above was blank), I will take a look at it and see what I can come up with.

      •  A really good Reason to shoot down HR4167 (none)
        Because it would override/negate the States' authority/jurisdiction to regulate food safety within their state,  and protect its own citizens safety.


    •  Exactly! (none)
      I am still waiting for the Democrats to pick up the real food poisoning issue - the issue of Halliburton serving contaminated food to our soldiers in Iraq.

      Also, is it not about time that one of our fearless leaders issued an explanation of why they voted for the Patriot Act - an illegal Act which is an unconstitutional assault on the Bill of Rights and does not contribute one iota towards making us safer?

      I think our Democratic leadership assumes that we, being Americans too, have to be as dumb as the religious wackos of the Right who vote against their own best interests in the name of religion.

    •  a few things... (none)
      I just want to clarify because I think some things that you say are not exactly right or could be misinterpreted, especially regarding freshness of meat and what aging means (i.e., do not try this at home if you don't know what you're doing!).

      A fresh cut of meat is fresher than one that has been sitting for a few days.

      Oxidation does change the flavor of meat and the difference of one day can be noticeable to a sensitive palate.

      With aged beef you need to understand that carcasses, not cuts, are aged, then the outer, spoiled parts of the carcass are removed before the cuts are made -- the process of aging is facilitated by nonpathogenic (harmless) bacteria which break down the muscle fibers (tenderizing), not by oxygen.

      In general -- anyone who cooks meat should know that if you're not going to eat the meat right away, or in a couple of days, you should freeze it to preserve the flavor and prevent spoilage.

      hope this helps

      "No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior.
      All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them."
      ---Elie Wiesel

      by bleargh on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 09:49:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Two points (none)
        • I am pretty sure that it is natural tissue proteolytic (protein-breaking down) enzyme action (not bacterial action) present in the meat is what is resposible for tenderizing and  flavor  development from aging beef.

        • Alton Brown ("Good Eats") ages cuts of meat like standing rib roast.
        •  you're right (none)
          I looked it up ... proteolytic enzymes in the muscle tissue ... I learn something new every day

          anyhow, it's not oxygen

          I also learned that cuts can be wet aged in vacuum packed bags

          "No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior.
          All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them."
          ---Elie Wiesel

          by bleargh on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 10:46:52 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I don't think your criticism is valid (none)
      shumard, Rep. Slaughter clearly said that CO as used in meat packaging is not poisonous, but that it can be used to cover up old meat.

      The older alternatives you describe are preservatives, and I understand that CO is not.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand that CO keeps the meat red but doesn't slow down rotting the way nitrates and nitrites do.  So the nice red meat preserved with CO may well smell rotten when opened, while the nitrite-treated meat will not.  So are you sure that the CO treatment is safer, if the public might be eating fewer chemicals but more bacteria?

      The food industry is always arguing against honest labeling by claiming that telling the truth will confuse the public.

  •  Recommended (none)
    And call made to Darrell Issa's office. This was the first time they asked me for my complete address. Weird.

    Maybe the hokey pokey IS what it's all about.

    by Rachel in Vista on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 09:10:03 AM PST

  •  Contacted Lynn Woosley (none)
    Contacted Lynn Woosley by email.  Encouraged her to protect California's right to enact healthy food policies by opposing the  "Food Uniformity Act".

    Additionally, I noted her support for organic farming and produce standards, a big deal here in CA.  Below, she describes CA state and local pressure have pushed to the fore a national standard from which we all could benefit.  Here is the except from Rep. Woosley's official site.

    Marin and Sonoma farmers, ranchers and local businesses are national leaders in producing and selling organic food, and were key proponents of establishing USDA organic standards. The organic standards mean that our local organic agricultural products are recognized for their added investment and work to grow high quality food.  And, the standards let consumers know exactly how the organic food they're purchasing was grown.  But some special interests recently snuck a provision into the FY03 omnibus appropriations bill that would give an exception to the organic standards for one Georgia poultry company.  This is unfair and could undermine the whole intent of having organic standards.  That's why I've joined with my colleagues in introducing H.R. 955 that will repeal this unfair provision.  We will work hard to make sure the organics standards are upheld in a manner that's fair for everyone.

    "These are the times that try men's [and women's] souls." - The Crisis, December 23, 1776

    by TPaine on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 09:16:02 AM PST

    •  Strange this is outdated (none)
      I will contact Rep. Woosley, as this matter is NOT pending in this Congress as HR 955, her mention of FY03 legislation caught my attention after I posted, and indeed, HR 955 is National Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Act of 2005 (Introduced in House) in this Congress...does anyone know if the National Organic standards she proposed as HR 955 in '03 passed?  I'll include that query in my note to Rep. Woosley.

      "These are the times that try men's [and women's] souls." - The Crisis, December 23, 1776

      by TPaine on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 09:22:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  states rights (none)
    next time a rethug yammers on to you about states rights, slap them upside the head and take them on a little tour of the Bush admin years.

    What a massive corporate boondogle

  •  I just called my Congressman....Xavier Becerra.... (none)
    His office people were extremely helpful in explaining that the Congressman is still considering whether or not to support this bill.

    I told him my main concerns were that this seems to be a hurried up vote and our safety is going out the window....I was told that the vote will go over into next week. That gives us time to make our voices heard! (I'm not giving up!)

    We need to keep up the calls to our undecided Congressmen and Congresswomen that we oppose this bill!

    Thank you Rep Slaughter for bringing this to our attention!

    The 7 Commandments are abridged for the last time, simply reading, "All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others."

    by califdweller on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 09:34:42 AM PST

  •  Another avenue (none)
    for getting this message out would be organic gardeners, organic growers for whom there are lots of active sites. Also, vegetarian and vegan communities will pitch in on this, most of these have huge concerns about food quality.

    If someone in Rep. Slaughter's office could prepare a version of this diary to post on her website, I would take that link and send it around to the sites I know about. (I didn't spot this on her website, unless I missed it??) Thank you!!!

  •  Priorities (none)
    DISCLAIMER: I agree with Rep. Slaughter that this is a problem.  I agree with Rep. Slaughter that the administration's actions here are unconscionable.

    Now to my point.

    We are at a point of critical mass with this administration, and approaching a battle for control over Congress.  Impeachment, some believe, is actually in reach.

    What we need now more than anything else is message discpline.  This does not mean that we cannot rail against every atrocity that this administration rolls out, and it seems like there are new ones every single day.  What it does mean is that we have to carefully frame each of these scandals, gaffes, and indignities within the context of larger issues.

    "Here they go again, handing out cash to big business and screwing workers/consumers."

    "Here they go again, trampling the constitution."

    "Here they go again, flaunting the rule of law."

    Does this make sense?

    "The Bush administration wants to poison our meat" gets lost in the sea of absurdity.  When we relate it to systemic and endemic failures of this government, we win.

    Some things are not for sale. Send the Republicans home in 2006.

    by The Termite on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 09:56:08 AM PST

    •  I disagree (none)
      This is not a merely symbolic action; it will cause harm to the American people.  It must be blocked.

      Figure out the framing later, after the bill is defeated.  At that point, feel free to point out that the sponsors were Republicans.

      But "framing" is much less important than preventing a harmful bill from being enacted.

      •  You miss the point (none)
        Again, not saying we don't block it.  I'm making constructive suggestions that should bring concerned activists into the fold.  Framing isn't sitting in a room and brainstorming for a few weeks while the issue passes you by -- it has to do with how you communicate everything.

        Some things are not for sale. Send the Republicans home in 2006.

        by The Termite on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 04:20:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Rep. Slaughter (none)
    Thank you for all you do, we need alot more representatives like you.  Pointing out more things the republicans are doing that are not just wrong but blatantly immoral, is no problem, just watch c-span, but a more important question is what can really be done about any of it?  Especially for you with David Drier as the chairman of the rules committee, he is infamous for bending the rules to favor the republicans.  

    So far I have yet to see the democrats stand together on much of anything.  In fact there is always some DINO's holding out, looking for a deal.  We need to see some teamwork on something, please, anything.  Its time for another revolution.

  •  Congresswoman... (none)
    America's food supply has been vulnerable and we have been fed crap for decades...glad you finally got on board with this.

    Whoever is writing your diaries needs to realize that our food source in America started to go down hill after WWII and we needed to find ways to get rid of certain chemicals and we started fertilizing and treating crop lands.

    Now due to the overbuilding and the shrinking of our producing farms (encouraged by politicians who are in the pockets of food lobbiests), we are genetically altering ALL of our food sources.

    Why do you think there is a higher incident of cancers?  Daaaaa.

    We can make a drug to continue to allow men to have sex into their 90's, but we haven't found a cure for cancer or protected our food source.

  •  I called Rep. McDermott's office (none)
    But we all know he'll vote the right way already. :)

    by Bensch on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 10:21:26 AM PST

  •  They want to make all small (none)
    farms so unprofitable that they will be drowned in what's left of the pond.
    Thanks for this diary.
    You know, sometimes I stand at the organic produce case, wanting to buy so badly. Both to support our organic farmers, and for my own health. I cannot afford it, 9 times out of 10. I am one of the lucky ones, I have land, and garden organically. So most of the veggies I do eat are ok. I just don't get to eat out of season.  It is the city dwellers and the poor who suffer most by this type of legislation. And the small farmers, the backbone of our land.
  •  Thanks as always, Rep. Slaughter.... (none)
    go get 'em!  (And so much for their much-vaunted "states' rights," once again--these Rethugs would sell their own mothers if they thought they could personally profit.

    ...the White House will be adorned by a downright moron...H.L. Mencken

    by bibble on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 11:16:54 AM PST

  •  10th Amendment? (none)
    I don't see how this is even constitutional. I don't question that Congress has the power to institute mandatory minimum labeling requirements, but how can they forbid the states from implementing more stringent requirements? Sale of food from a grocery store isn't interstate trade, and the 10th Amendment seems to be to reserve to the states the power to implement standards more stringent than the federal minimum.

    Support Our Troops: Send the Commander-in-Chief to the Front!

    by eodell on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 11:26:44 AM PST

  •  this (none)
    this is just one more sign of what our forefathers were trying NOT to accomplish in this country. This one almighty federal government trumping state government at every turn is NOT WHAT THIS COUNTRY WAS FOUNDED ON.

    I am not sure our founders would even recognize this country anymore.

    MEM to the feds:
    Allow states to govern and butt the hell out.

  •  Corporate profits. (none)
    That's the only reason I can think of for this asinine bill.  I mean, the cost to the Federal Government of enforcing strict regs or weak regs is the same.

    This diary reminded me of the recent case of Diamond pet foods putting moldy, aflatoxin-laced corn into dog food.  Diamond insists the stuff was inspected. Still a lot of dogs' livers have failed because of it, and some have even died.

    It's not that I object to federal laws regulating food quality.  I just wish Congress would strengthen them.  

  •  GE food labeling (none)
    Thank you Rep. Slaughter, for being out in front on this terrible
    Culture of Corrporate Corruption Party (CCCP) bill.

    According to, "If passed into law, this legislation threatens to repeal over 100 food safety laws in over 35 states. For example, the bill would preempt California's Proposition 65, a law that requires labeling of food and consumer products that contain substances known to cause cancer or reproductive harm. Further, this law would prevent any efforts to pass legislation on the state level that would require genetically engineered foods to be labeled. While our primary goal is to pass federal labeling legislation, we would still like the option for the states to act independently on this matter."

    Please TAKE ACTION now!

    I contacted Dennis Kucinich on March 1, who has proposed
    H.R. 4812 The Genetically Engineered Crop and Animal Farmer Protection Act of 2002 LINK
    and is working on legislation called the "Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act".

    Please work with Rep. Kucinich to expose how Conagra and other factory farmers are making us their GE food lab rats. It would be interesting to see just how much the Agri-business is donating to CCCP party members.
    ~ ~ ~ ~

    If you haven't watched "The Future of Food" on LINK-TV about how Conagra and other giant agri-corporations are modifying seed for soy, cotton and other crops, you can find out more about this at their web site:

  •  Appreciative Thanks (none)
      Thanks for the 118 page report of republican abuses you forwarded in the "America For Sale" expose and for this report food poisoniers.
      Without your work to maintain a balance of power , the prospect may be a total breakdown to mob rule and then nobody will be able find any food in any store. Just my opinion of the history or similiar societies that became tyrannical.
  •  Thank you Rep Slaughter. (none)
    Keep their feet to the fire.
  •  Every day its something else (none)
    Thanks Ms.Slaughter, for always keeping us informed on the "little" things we could miss while being outraged at the "Big" things.

    "Just when they think they know the answer, I change the question!" -Roddy Piper

    by McGirk SF on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 02:15:27 PM PST

  •  Isn't it amazing ... (none)
    how conservatives still hold to that old line of state's rights? And yet everywhere you look they are trying to take away state's rights. :O

    You have to admit the name "National Uniformity for Food Act" is an apt description. If you remove all laws and regulations, it makes it possible for the food lobby to uniformally [censored] us.

  •  Donald Rumsfeld (none)
    gave my grandmother a brain tumor.

    The diary will come in the next few weeks.

  •  For fuck's sake! (none)
    These bastards aren't going to be happy until we're all dead.

    How much more do we have to put up with?!?!?!

    What the hell is it NOW?

    by TigerMom on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 07:21:50 PM PST

  •  Don;t foreget about MBNA (none)
    and other robber baron lenders writing our bankruptcy legislation.

    Personally, Congresswoman, I'm getting sick and tired of seeing our legislation increasingly outsourced and privatized.


    Defending bad taste and liberalism since 2005.

    by jurassicpork on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 07:30:19 PM PST

  •  Just another example (none)
    of government of the corporations, by the the corporations, and for the corporations. Citizens be damned, there's money to be made!

    -8.25,-8.36 The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

    by sidnora on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 07:37:09 PM PST

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