Obama Announces Plans To Make Food Safe For Human Consumption

President Obama this week declared war on the Chinese Poison Train, announcing that the FDA will receive $1 billion in new funds for modern testing labs and additional food safety inspectors. Inspecting less than 5% of our food processing plants is apparently a “hazard to public health, and “it is unacceptable.” So what’s really behind the new policy shift? No, it’s not those melamine murders or salmonella outbreaks. It’s seven-year-old first daughter Sasha Obama!

In the end, food safety is something I take seriously, not just as your President, but as a parent. When I heard peanut products were being contaminated earlier this year, I immediately thought of my 7-year old daughter, Sasha, who has peanut butter sandwiches for lunch probably three times a week. No parent should have to worry that their child is going to get sick from their lunch. Just as no family should have to worry that the medicines they buy will cause them harm. Protecting the safety of our food and drugs is one of the most fundamental responsibilities government has, and, with the outstanding team I am announcing today, it is a responsibility that I intend to uphold in the months and years to come.

Obama also announced the creation of a working group charged with building a food safety framework that doesn’t look like something out of the first Roosevelt administration.

Consumers Union has called on the FDA to inspect all food processing plants at least once every year. If the President really wants to make everyone happy he’ll consolidate the food safety mandates spread across the government under a single all-powerful agency.

Still, nothing speaks louder than new funding, and we sure do like what the President is saying.

WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Barack Obama Announces Key FDA Appointments and Tougher Food Safety Measures [The White House]
President calls for FDA reform as Republicans continue to attack the budget [Consumer Reporter]
(Photo: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com, with cute dead skull from cutedeadthings.com.)

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  1. AfraidOfVelcro_GitEmSteveDave says:

    Finally. After years of lame duck administrations, I’ll be able to eat food! Makes up for Bush 41’s Executive Order mandating rat poison and thumbtacks in all processed foods. ;)

  2. Herbz says:

    Now where am I going to buy my irradiated salmonella peanut butter from?

  3. Ian Faragher says:

    More smoke and mirrors…. When is somebody going to actually make the FDA accountable and stop allowing all this REAL POISON (HFCS, cancer causing substitutes, trans fats, etc) to be circulated amongst our citizens causing obesity, diabetes, cancer, and God know what else. I WANT REAL FOOD.

    • floraposte says:

      @Ian Faragher: You can avoid those ingredients by reading labels and buying stuff that’s not packaged. Nobody’s forcing you to eat any of it. Food contamination, however, isn’t avoidable by simply reading labels.

    • supercereal says:

      @Ian Faragher: Then buy real food. As floraposte pointed out, contamination is an entirely different beast than unhealthy food that one knowingly chooses to eat. You may want to try out some of that free will stuff when determining what you eat. Don’t like what stores sell? You can always grow your own.

      I, for one, choose to eat delicious things such as bacon and chips every now and then because I want to, not because someone is forcing me to.

    • ludwigk says:

      @Ian Faragher: Go to a farmer’s market, join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).

      You can get real food (most places). It just costs more.

      • Vandon says:

        @ludwigk: You can get real food (most places). It just costs more.

        Oh, more money….Looks like I’m headed back to Wal-Mart and HEB.

    • liqideos says:

      @Ian Faragher: @Ian Faragher: @Ian Faragher: Start a farm.

    • shepd says:

      @Ian Faragher:

      Some of us either disagree with you/don’t care/are tired of others telling us what to do.

      Stay out of our business and we’ll stay out of yours. We have ingredients and nutrition labels on products for a purpose, just don’t buy what you don’t like. Simple.

      Personally, I would give my left leg to get saccharin sweetner (Next time I make a trip down south I’ll have to smuggle it back up). It’s really good (yes, I have no taste), and, quite honestly, a safer alternative to any other sweetner in use today. But, yes, it causes cancer in lab rats if you give them the sweetness equivalent of several kilos of sugar a day. Most people would die before they got through one kilo of *real* sugar in a day… But that’s still allowed!

      *sigh*

      Now, if I could have things my way, I’d ban milk in everything, since I’m lactose intolerant.

      • amandakerik says:

        @shepd: >>It’s really good (yes, I have no taste), and, quite honestly, a safer alternative to any other sweetner in use today.

        Hun, look for “stevia” in the health foods section (probably in “suppliments”). It’s made from a plant and yes, it’s sweet. A sweet that has a delayed onset (I use part brown sugar, part stevia to smooth out the transition, ymmv) but the sweetness stays on the tongue for a while :).
        If you’re looking for a brand, try “SweetLeaf” brand, and they have flavoured versions for your coffee / tea.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @Ian Faragher: I want real food too, but you aren’t going to get real food into the mainstream, which I think is what you’re aiming for.

      There’s plenty of real food in your supermarket, but unfortunately the fake food has lobbyists that ensure it is more affordable and more widely available.

      When sugar-packed-cereal companies are mandated to stop advertising as “healthy” and McDonalds stops marketing to children, I’ll be happy.

  4. savdavid says:

    Hertz, If peanut butter was irradiated there would be NO salmonella. You do understand that, don’t you?

  5. opticnrv says:

    What ever happened to ‘certain inalienable rights’? Seems like back in the 1700’s, they might have taken safe food for granted, but now we don’t have that luxury. Like ‘em or hate ‘em, no one can deny that Obama is willing to TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT! In my opinion, it’s the first step in any action to make things right. All anyone can do is be unafraid to make mistakes and then learn from them.

  6. Japheaux says:

    A new record! It only took one post to blame Bush.

  7. dumblonde says:

    I’m not sure about this. Not too long ago the FDA said salmonella’s good for you! Obama’s just paranoid, I say ;-)
    [www.theonion.com]

    • ludwigk says:

      @dumblonde: Yeah, tell that to my projectile vomiting. I’ve had food poisoning twice this year already, and I’ve never gotten it before. I should probably stop eating.

  8. valleygirl_18002 says:

    I’ve got an idea:
    HOW ABOUT WE STOP IMPORTING FOOD FROM OTHER COUNTRIES! Or at best, have adequate working conditions for those who work on farms HERE to minimize contamination.

    With all this farmland, you’re telling me that we can’t grow food? Farm workers go to the toilet on the fields and don’t wash their hands.

    Oh yeah, LET’S ENFORCE FOOD HANDLING LAWS HERE FIRST!

    Ugh.

    • Poormojo says:

      @dialmelo: You’re worried about hand washing? You do know what fertilizer is made from, right?

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @dialmelo: We do grow food, but we subsidize certain kinds of crops and encourage certain farming practices. We do need some policy changes at home to ensure the safety of our native food supply.

      @Poormojo: In the first world? Ammonium nitrate. You can also use it to make bombs and meth! Haber-Bosch FTW!

    • liquidnumb says:

      @dialmelo: The states might be able to provide itself with an adequate volume of food, but if the US only ate what was grown there, you’d have a pretty slim bunch of choices.

  9. TonyTriple says:

    Upton Sinclair’s body just revved down a few RPMs.

  10. Trai_Dep says:

    While it’s natural for a parent to humanize policies by referencing his children, at least this President uses it as a launchpad to make all parent’s children safe(r).
    I’d imagine the previous one would have smirked, whipped out the First Member then urinated on the spinach at a Wal-Mart, while crowing, “MY kids don’t eat here – what’s your problem, ya Socialist! Ehh heh heh.”

    I also like Consumerist and Consumer’s Union holding the President’s feet over the fire, insisting that, Thanks, it’s not enough. (R) or (D), it’s always best to make sure our government does better at the point of a (ballot) gun barrel.

  11. B says:

    Seeing as how we don’t import much food from China, isn’t this more of a war on the American poison train? Let’s not give the Chinese credit for things we can accomplish all by ourselves.

    • amandakerik says:

      @B: Food grown in China will (eventually) inevitably be contaminated with the heavy metals contained in computers we ship over there for processing, which then gets into the water supply and soil.

      China also does a lot of packaging, and even if something says “made in USA” it can still have parts of it’s production done in China. They claim it’s from the country where the product’s costs are highest along it’s production journey.

      Garbage in, garbage out.

  12. B says:

    @Herbz: Add the Salmonella yourself like a good consumerist. It’s cheaper and you get a better quality of salmonella, which of course you will harvest directly from bird feces and other organic sources.

  13. chris_d says:

    Why do these librulz always want to blame Bush for everything? It’s not his fault if he put folks in charge of the FDA who were completely unconcerned about food safety. It’s also not his fault if he underfunded the FDA so it couldn’t do many inspections. That’s all someone else’s fault!!!

  14. Patches O'Houlihan says:

    Of course, the FDA. We can trust them, they are from the government. How about we get rid of the HFCS, GMO corn and GMO soy which is produced in the USA. Our farmers are held hostage by Monsanto and must use Round Up ready crops or they are fighting an uphill battle. Most countries around the world, including many third world countries, make the importation of USA food products, especially processed foods, ILLEGAL. Why do you think that is?

    Check out:

    http://www.foodmatters.tv
    http://www.ewg.org
    http://www.dorway.com

    [video.google.com]

    • floraposte says:

      @sunshinelizard: I think that’s because it’s not actually true. U.S. corn, for instance, is a multi-billion dollar export industry to countries all over the world; plus there’s the fact that lots of import issues are linked to trade policies at home rather than a resistance to the nature of a specific country’s produce.

    • AfraidOfVelcro_GitEmSteveDave says:

      @sunshinelizard: Damn straight. Ever since that Mendel realized that you could breed certain traits, this plague of genetically modified plants and veggies has gone crazy. I mean, why do we need 30 kinds of apples? Or corn/wheat/etc.. that can grow in low moisture conditions? Those people who live there don’t need food. They can always just move. And those people who need insulin? I’m sure they can find other ways to get it.
      [skeptoid.com]

      Oh, and BTW, Round Up isn’t protected anymore and can be made generically, so no one has a monopoly over it. Also, I’m not sure how crops that are “ready” to be sprayed by a herbicide works.

  15. Trai_Dep says:

    @B: “Let’s not give the Chinese credit for things we can accomplish all by ourselves.”

    USA! USA!! USA!!!

  16. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    We sold China our poisonous assets (mortgage-backed securities, etc.), they in turn sold us poisonous food. You mean we’re not even?

  17. Lucky_Strike-001 says:

    Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle to expose inhumane treatment of immigrant workers at the hands of the rich capitalists and bring to light America’s wage slavery. In the end, the book just grossed people out. In his own words “I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.”

  18. NightingaleJen says:

    Unfortunately, this will also mean the feds get to harass small-scale producers, like the ones selling at your local farmer’s market and, yes, the humble backyard gardener with a little “Victory Garden” of their own. Has anyone read HR 875? Absurd. Sorry, but more government is rarely ever the answer.

    • amandakerik says:

      @NightingaleJen: I have, and it’s yet another reason I’m glad I’m across the border here. I happen to LIKE being able to grow my own food and being able to buy “harvest boxes” (misc fruit and veg that are cheaper than in stores and vary by the season).

      I’m hoping like hell that bill gets neutered.

  19. TEW says:

    Let’s hope they don’t screw this up like they did with the lead paint protection laws. I hope they don’t rush a law that bans something safe because congress did not write the bill properly. The funding is not an issue; the peanut plant had been cleared as being safe. Also some European countries don’t allow you to bring in cookies to your child’s school because they can’t inspect the parent’s home.

    • liquidnumb says:

      @TEW: The plant was not initially cleared as safe. They got a second (third, fourth?) opinion from an inspector who cleared it based on the assumption that salmonella could not even survive in the product.

  20. KDHR says:

    Too bad Obama has no authoriti over China.

  21. ninjapoodles says:

    “Oh, and BTW, Round Up isn’t protected anymore and can be made generically, so no one has a monopoly over it. Also, I’m not sure how crops that are “ready” to be sprayed by a herbicide works.”

    Monsanto has a choke-hold on American industrial agriculture that can’t be denied. “Round-Up Ready” crops have been genetically modified by Monsanto to be Round-Up resistant, so that the herbicide does not have to be applied selectively–which is to say that you can conveniently just soak your entire fields, crop and all, with the poison, and the weeds will die while the crop lives on.

    • Shivved says:

      @ninjapoodles: You say that like it’s a bad thing. I’m sure it’s a lot cheaper in the long run to be able to soak your fields in herbicide and not have to worry about killing the crops too. That savings gets passed on to you, the consumer.

      If you are dead set on eating 100% organic, unmodified crops, find a nice patch of land and plant them yourself. As for me, I’ll take the ones that are perfectly safe and cheaper to produce.

      As for Monsato having a “choke-hold” on American industrial agriculture, there is a simple solution for farmers:don’t use Monsato seeds. I’m sure there are non-genetically engineered seeds out there somewhere that they can use, complete with lower crop yields and higher risk of failure. The fact that they choose not to is pretty telling if you ask me.

      • amandakerik says:

        @Shivved: >>I’m sure it’s a lot cheaper in the long run to be able to soak your fields in herbicide and not have to worry about killing the crops too.

        Unfortunately, the soil is not a closed system in a vaccuum, that stuff gets into the water. Nevermind that it also probably kills other things like worms and bacteria that are needed to keep the soil viable.

        Soil isn’t just sanitized dust you plunk a seed into and add water, sun and nutrients. It’s alive. You can’t grow ANYTHING in dead soil.

        >>I’m sure there are non-genetically engineered seeds out there somewhere that they can use.

        Good luck, Monsanto has bought up most of the seed companies in the US.

        Do some research on the criticism that is out there on the topic, then we’ll debate the issue :)

      • SavitriPleiades says:

        @Shivved: Yes, Shivved, you really need to have some background knowledge before you can actually debate this issue. You may be surprised, but Monsanto and other major corporations are attempting to turn seeds into commercial property, and the government (not just the US) seems to be cooperating for the most part, which makes it harder for farmers to use seeds as nature intended (i.e., harvesting and replanting). Here is some background info: [en.wikipedia.org]

        Also, it is true that the EU has banned the importation of genetically modified foods, the large majority of which come from the US. [query.nytimes.com] Any idea what percentage of US foods are genetically modified? No? Maybe because the FDA doesn’t require them to be labeled as such.

        These are some of the issues the Obama administration needs to tackle. More governmental oversight just moves us further and further away from policies that favor the small farmer.

  22. frodolives35 says:

    That is true. I live surounded by farm fields and am very worried about the chemicals they use on all 4 sides of my home. I will be putting in a new well this summer and the water will be tested and I hope it checks out ok.

  23. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    @ frodolives35, definitely get that water tested. i almost bought a house with a well a couple of years ago and discovered through preparatory research that many of the wells in my area have low levels of arsenic.
    [www.wral.com]

    unrelated to the above reply:
    i like the man [obama,] but i’m a little worried that he’s taking it seriously.

    i really miss the reply and preview post features that i still can’t access… sigh.

  24. TEW says:

    @frodolives35
    I would get the water tested if I were you. You have to remember that even if there was no humans tampering with the water supply you still have the natural animals to deal with. I remember talking with a water quality expert and he said that he always wanted to see what the local water tests were before humans. His theory was that humans are not having as large of an impact as we think in terms of waste.

  25. Brad Levy says:

    OBAMARAMA!!!

  26. bnosach says:

    It actually immediately reminded me of the recent article from TheOnion titled “FDA Approves Salmonella”. There is no way one can make all sources of food safe. Majority of people are on the lookout for the cheapest options available and that in itself makes the notion of food safety incorrect.

  27. Snarkysnake says:

    A great first step would be to have “no loophole” labeling of the country of origin of ALL foods.This would at least allow consumers of said food the chance to skirt the Chinese stuff and buy from countries with higher standards.

    Example: Vanilla Extract by “Back Bay Trading Co.” sold at Big Lots. NO WHERE on the label does it say where it’s made. After numerous emails to the company asking where its made (with no reply)I have to assume the worst. (I did not buy it because I was afraid that it was from PRC) .God only knows whats in a bottle.

    Read where its made. That is a good way to screen out the obvious risks…

  28. hi says:

    They create the problems and then come out with new federal laws to fix the problems they create and you people are like “YAY THEY ARE GOING TO FIX IT! THE GOVERNMENTS GOING TO SAVE US ALL!!!”. Then a year later you forget that problem which was never fixed and you move on to another problem. Better read that bill completely and not just listen to what they say because they don’t tell you what this is really for. They add ear marks to every bill.

  29. Robert Synnott says:

    Erm, sounds more like he’s declaring war on killer American food.

  30. deadspork says:

    Is anyone else having a problem replying directly to other people’s posts, or is it just me?

  31. HiPwr says:

    For every $100,000,000 of American debt the Chinese buy, they will be allowed to sell us 1,000 tons of poison food.

  32. tworld says:

    All the tainted food, encouraged by the laws of the last administration, should be forced fed to Bushbutt, Chaney and their families.

  33. Opus says:

    But the point of irradiation is that it’s done AFTER the product is sealed.