Skip to comments.Democrats Propose Country of Origin Rule for Food, Drugs
Posted on 04/19/2008 1:10:25 PM PDT by JACKRUSSELL
(WASHINGTON) Democratic lawmakers want to make sure people know where their food and drugs come from and the overseas plants producing them are regularly inspected.
Leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee proposed Thursday that all produce labels be required to show the country of origin. They also want food manufacturers of all kinds to identify on their corporate Web site where each ingredient in a particular food product originated.
Drug labels also would have to identify the source of a medicine's active ingredient and its place of manufacture. Labels for all medical devices would have to show country of origin, as well.
The United States imports more than $2 trillion worth of products from more than 150 countries. Lawmakers and the Bush administration say a variety of food and drug safety problems, such as the 62 deaths recently associated with contaminated batches of the blood thinner heparin, point to the need for improved oversight.
Draft legislation on the expanded product identification was sent to lawmakers and the food, drug and medical device industries. Next week, the committee will have hearings on the proposal.
Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., and chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said consumers deserve to know where their purchases come from.
"How are you going to know what is in there or whether it's safe if you don't know where it comes from?" Dingell asked. "For example, if it comes from Great Britain, you're going to assume it's pretty safe. If it comes from Canada, it's probably pretty safe. If it comes from China, you're going to say, 'Holy cats, we better watch out.'"
The legislation also calls for much more money for the Food and Drug Administration through new fees paid by industry. All food manufacturers serving the U.S. market, whether they are inside or outside the United States, would have to pay $2,000 for each of the manufacturing, distribution and storage facilities they have in operation.
The fees would generate about $600 million annually, which would be used to beef up the Food and Drug Administration. Democratic lawmakers said the agency needs to inspect all foreign and domestic food facilities at least once every four years. Companies that refused to be inspected would not be allowed to ship to the U.S.
In all likelihood, producers would pass the additional costs to customers in the form of higher food prices.
"At a time when thousands of Americans are being forced out of their homes and losing their job, it makes little sense for Congress to arbitrarily increase the price of food," said Scott Faber, vice president for federal affairs at the Grocery Manufacturers Association.
Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives with Consumers Union, said prices probably would not rise much but "I think consumers would be willing to pay a little more to ensure their food is safe."
The legislation would create a permanent foreign inspection force with staff assigned to certain countries so they were more familiar with companies, customs and language. Inspections would have to be done every two years for drug and medical device facilities.
The bill incorporates several measures sought by the Bush administration, such as authority for the FDA to conduct mandatory recalls of products. Now, the agency can only request that companies undertake a recall. Faber said the grocery manufacturers support FDA's ability to force recalls.
The trade association representing drug manufacturers said it has not taken a stance on foreign inspections or country of origin labeling. However, it's clear that the FDA does need more money, the association says.
"The agency's responsibilities have soared, yet its resources have not kept up to meet these increasing demands," said Ken Johnson, senior vice president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.
True, but it’s not all that bad an idea in theory.
I would like to know where these generic ingredients, especially in drugs, are coming from.
"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus
Democrats seem to be making a play for “Reagan Democrats”.
Where’s the GOP??...
The strange thing is that this was already required for most products (non food or drugs).
Yes, it would be a great thing, if done right. I just can’t help but wonder what the catch is going to be.
Hiding under these desks as always lest they have to act like an opposition party. Judging from how well Operation Chaos is going, we might be better off filling the place entirely with Democrats and making two parties out of them. At least we know they'll fight over issues.
I would be willing to pay a little more to ensure I wasn't buying any Chinese crap by accident.
The stupid party passed this and then the lobbyists got them to put it off forever, which is what the demorats will do after the election.
I would like to know where these generic ingredients, especially in drugs, are coming from.
I had posted a few weeks ago about a quick search I did.
Go ahead. Any Search Engine: "Niacin", "Ascorbic Acid", "B-12", etc. and watch what pops up.
Have to agree with Dems on this one.
No, we label country of manufacture, that’s all...
This is insane regulation! EVERY ingredient would need to be identified. Rice grown in Indonesia then refined in Singapore before coming to be used in your boxed rice meal - is that Indonesian or Singapore rice?
Look at the ingredient list of a bottle of pasta sauce, or a box of cereal. There’s 40+ ingredients in there. And you have to list EVERY single source?
How about just tomato sauce? Many companies - like Dole - use tomatoes from their own farms in Mexico, Honduras, Panama, US, and Canada. So how do you label that sauce? All potential countries, only the countries that contributed to that individual can?
This is a really bad idea, not only will labels get 4X as big, but tracking will be insane. And 99% of your consumers will simply ignore the information anyway...
Just a way for Government to get further hooks into the economy, because then they KNOW who to start “penalizing” when they want to play with tariffs or trade war. More control for the Government, less for individuals...
Then the GOP should have done something with this legislation when they controlled Congress. This has been a persistent request from many consumer groups as well as US farmers.
US farmers/ranchers especially wanted COOL (Country Of Origin Labeling) after the Canadian BSE outbreak took down beef prices in the US markets (which were BSE-free).
The USDA and consumer groups then wanted national animal ID implemented, which would allow tracking livestock from birth to hamburger, but the packing companies didn’t want COOL. With national animal ID, you’d not only know country of origin, you’d know the specific ranch where the animal was born - way more information than necessary to implement COOL.
But the GOP refused to bring the bill forward. Why? Because the GOP has been carrying water for the four big meat packing industries for years, and they refused to listen to the consumers, farmers and ranchers and instead they wanted to listen to the big meat packers and idiotic economists claiming that things like COOL are an impediment to international trade.
Is it any surprise that the GOP is now the minority party?
They’re mostly all morons in Congress, but the GOP leadership is a very special brand of mental pygmies.
Personally I’d love for this to come into effect. Don’t really care which party proposes it as it’s a good diea for the consumer.
Personally, I'd like to know if the drug I'm taking came from the People's Republic of China. Or for that matter, if my television does.
Americans should be provided the information they need to select the products they use.
Well, this is what you get when you consider a country like Communist China a favored nation for trade.
The ChiComs have no notion of QC on food products, never have, never will. They’re commies. They don’t care how many people die, just so long as they reach their quotas. That’s why they’ll happily put DEG into toothpaste instead of food-quality sweeteners. They’ll put melamine into gluten to raise the protein levels. People think these things are flukes. For people who have studied the history of the ChiCom’s, no, these are not flukes, they’re typical communist behavior.
The difference is that the ramifications of these obsessions of quotas over quality now have the potential to kill us, not some nameless Chinese peasants in some far-flung province of China. Why? Because our food companies seem to be obsessed with providing the cheapest food possible, rather than the most reliable food possible. And even tho we have vast quantities of wheat gluten available in this country, the Walmart obsession that has become the US economy doesn’t care that we have gluten of toothpaste available when there is cheaper crap available from the ChiComs.
So yea, unless we’re going to inject some rational regulations into input regs, we’re going to label every ingredient. And then consumers will be able to conduct themselves in a rational manner than will reward the ChiComs with the economic feedback that will force them to pay attention to quality and safety.
“instead they wanted to listen to the big meat packers...”
...who were employing illegal aliens, who will be given amnesty by any of the three candidates running for President, and who will then vote Democrat and relegate the GOP to minority status for the next 40 years.
They don’t call it “The Stupid Party” for nothing.
This seems like a good idea, BUT the Dims being behind it makes me suspicious. I don’t know, but assume the GOP isn’t pushing this because they are catering to their Big Business friends in food and drug importing.
Excellent posts. If you have any political aspirations, lemme know. I’d move to NV just to vote for you.
That too. Excellent point.
We all NB that the biggest INS busts made in the last two years have been at packing plants, right? Doesn’t matter whether we’re talking beef, lamb, chicken, etc — the common factor is the ID theft by illegals employed at the packing plants.
The GOP has had the brains of a goldfish the last four years.
I don't trust Washington, especially Bush, to do it at all.
I’ll take them seriously when the insist upon country of origin labeling for lawn cutters and roofers.
Why am I so so skeptical of the idiot from my home state, when I agree with him in this matter?