Why Patrick Leahy’s Food Safety Accountability Act of 2010 Must Be Stopped

Alliance for Natural Health
9/21/2010

Last week we told you about the threat posed by Sen. Leahy’s new bill. This week we want to explain how important it is that all of us take action—immediately.

The first problem, as we noted in our original piece, is that the bill calls for a jail term of up to ten years for any food or supplement producer who “misbrands” a product. Excuse us, but what does misbranding have to do with food safety? Is this another example of Congress not wanting a good crisis (recent food contamination) to go to waste? To this bill’s credit, it is short and more-or-less understandable. So why does it wander off the food safety subject almost at once?

And keep this important point in mind: the FDA contends that any food or supplement producer who mentions the potential of a product to prevent or treat disease is guilty of misbranding—even if they have piles and piles of scientific research from Harvard or some other top institution. So this bill would create a potential ten-year jail term simply for citing the best science.

The FDA will use this new stick to intimidate, harass, and unfairly punish. The word “misbranding” has no place in this bill. It vastly increases FDA power over food and supplement producers without enhancing food safety in any way.

The second problem is that this bill defines contamination as “adulteration.” But the legal definition of “adulteration,” like “misbranding,” is highly technical, and the FDA’s current definition of adulteration includes minor and unintended administrative and clerical errors.

The third problem is that the bill is sloppily written, which can be dangerous when the time comes to enforce the law. Placement of the key word “knowingly” is ambiguous: does the long jail term apply to those who “knowingly introduce” the product into commerce, or to those who “knowingly adulterate” it? On top of that, the bill seems to apply to someone who sells a contaminated product, but not to someone who contaminates it in the first place if not a distributor.

Read the rest at Alliance for Natural Health

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