Mr. Speaker, last week it was brought up about the number of organizations that were opposed to this bill. I want to submit for the RECORD at this point a list of 119 from all 50 States across the Nation that support this, small businessmen and women, large businesses, including the H.J. Heinz Company and many, many others.
Groups Supporting H.R. 4167--The National Uniformity for Food Act of 2005
Last Updated: February 27, 2006.
Ahold, Albertson's, Altria Group, Inc., American Bakers Association, American Beverage Association, American Feed Industry Association, American Frozen Food Institute, American Plastics Council, American Meat Institute, American Spice Trade Association, and Animal Health Institute.
Apple Products Research and Education Council Association for Dressings and Sauces, Biscuit and Cracker Manufacturers Association, Bush Brothers & Company, Business Roundtable, Cadbury Schweppes plc, California Farm Bureau Federation, California Grocers Association, California League of Food Processors, California Manufacturers & Technoloy Association, Calorie Control Council, and Campbell Soup Company.
Cargill, Incorporated, Chocolate Manufacturers Association, The Coca-Cola Company, Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., ConAgra Foods, Inc., Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, Dean Foods Company, Del Monte Foods, Diamond Foods, Inc., Flavor & Extract Manufacturers Association, and Flowers Foods, Inc.
Food Marketing Institute, Food Products Association, Frito-Lay, Frozen Potato Products Institute, General Mills, Inc., Gerber Products Company, Glass Packaging Institute, Godiva Chocolatier Inc., Grain Foods Foundation, Grocery Manufacturers Association, and H.J. Heinz Company.
The Hershey Company, Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., Hormel Foods Corporation, Independent Bakers Association, Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils, International Association of Color Manufacturers, International Bottled Water Association, International Dairy Foods Association, International Food Additives Council, International Foodservice Distributors Association, and International Formula Council.
International Ice Cream Association, International Jelly and Preserves Association, The J.M. Smucker Company, Jewel-Osco, Kellogg Company, Kraft Foods, Inc., Land O' Lakes, Inc., Maine Potato Board, Masterfoods USA, McCormick & Company, Inc., and McKee Foods Corporation.
Milk Industry Foundation, The Minute Maid Company, National Association of Convenience Stores, National Association of Manufacturers, National Association of Margarine Manufacturers, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Cheese Institute, National Chicken Council, and National Coffee Association of USA.
National Confectioners Association, National Fisheries Institute, National Frozen Pizza Institute, National Grape Cooperative Association, National Grocers Association, National Institute of Oilseed Products, National Milk Producers Federation, National Pasta Association, National Pecan Shellers Association, and National Pork Producers Council.
National Potato Council, National Restaurant Association, National Turkey Federation, Nestle USA, North American Millers' Association, Osco Drug, O-I, Peanut and Tree Nut Processors Association, Pepperidge Farm Incorporated, PepsiCo, Inc., and Pickle Packers' International.
The Procter & Gamble Company, Quaker Oats, Rich Products Corporation, Rich SeaPak Corporation, Safeway, Sara Lee Corporation, Sav-on Drugs, The Schwan Food Company, Snack Food Association, Society of Glass and Ceramics Decorators, and Supervalu Inc.
Target Corporation, Tortilla Industry Association, Tropicana, Unilever, United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Vinegar Institute, Welch Foods, Inc., Winn-Dixie, Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, and Yoplait.
In regard to the gentleman from Michigan who just spoke about the issue regarding the treatment of meats and this issue about carbon monoxide, look, the same thing is done, as an example, I would not think that he would be opposed to the use of lemon juice on apples to keep them from turning brown. That is routinely done.
Let me also point out that the FDA and USDA have both approved the use of carbon monoxide for over 4 years. The news report would lead one to believe that carbon monoxide is being used to mask spoilage, but the USDA discounted that assertion back in 2004.
In reality, this story is more a result of private companies with older packaging technology unable to compete with newer competitors that have a better product.
Mr. STUPAK. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. GINGREY. I yield to the gentleman from Michigan.
Mr. STUPAK. Mr. Speaker, as to meat and fish, as the gentleman knows, the FDA just issued their rule not even 3 weeks ago, 4 weeks ago, and they did it without any independent studies. They just said they just reviewed it, no study, no research, no nothing.
So what you may use lemon juice on apples is a far cry different than carbon monoxide on meat and seafood, and especially tuna, which most people consume in a raw state.
Mr. GINGREY. Mr. Speaker, reclaiming my time, as I say, this process has been going on for over 4 years. I do not know that there have been any reports of people harmed in any way by the process, and, again, I think this is just a competitive issue between a company that has herbal food or herbal products they are using and they would rather those be used, and, sure, ban the other process and remove competition.
Mr. KING of Iowa: ...I rise in support of H.R. 4167, the National Uniformity for Food Act and in support of this rule.
Ensuring food safety is a partnership between the Federal Government and the States. However, while it is a partnership, a national food supply requires a national approach to food safety. H.R. 4167 would allow for an orderly review of existing State regulations that may differ from Federal regulations. The legislation carefully balances the need for uniformity, while respecting the important role State and local governments have in making sure our food supply is safe.
Under the current system States may impose contradictory regulations, imposing unnecessary complexity and cost on food processors, manufacturers and wholesalers throughout the United States. That translates into costs that are passed on to the consumers, not to mention the tax burden, Mr. Speaker, for administration of different and duplicative regulations.
Science-based food warnings should be applied uniformly. If a warning about food is supported by science, then consumers in all 50 States should have the benefit of this warning. Inconsistent warning requirements confuse consumers, which does not lead to sound decisionmaking.
This bill will result in allowing States and the Federal Government to work together in establishing science-based food safety policies. Consumers are not protected well under a system where States adopt different regulatory requirements on the same food products. Consumers deserve a commonsense approach, a clear, single standard.
To speak to an example, a 2002 study conducted by Swedish scientists that provided evidence to support that a substance with cancer-causing properties called acrylamide was formed in some snacks and other foods when fired or baked at very high temperatures, but since 2002 some additional studies have confirmed these results, causing some States to consider warning label requirements for foods containing acrylamide.
Specifically, in August of 2005, the California attorney general filed a lawsuit against several different manufacturers of potato chips and French fries and has requested a court order requiring companies to label certain food products containing acrylamide with a warning of the agent and its cancer-causing properties.
The Food and Drug Administration does not currently require States to place a warning label on products which contain acrylamide after the baking process. Therefore, enactment of H.R. 4167 would, for all practical purposes, prohibit the State of California from requiring food manufacturers to place an acrylamide warning on their products unless the State filed a petition for exemption with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, or unless the FDA decided to set California as a requirement
for the country as a whole.
This is a well-balanced bill, Mr. Speaker. It brings good, sound science to the table, and it provides for a regulation and a means for the States to make their case with the FDA so that the entire United States of America can benefit from the wisdom of the Californians.
Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 3 1/2 minutes to the gentleman from California (Mr. Waxman).
Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Speaker, after hearing the last speaker on the other side of the aisle on this rule, he claimed this is a bill that is well-balanced, thought through; it would lead to national regulations based on science. That all sounds well and good, but it is just not true.
This bill has never had a day of hearings. We don't know all that is in this bill. You wonder why the Congress would do its work in this way: a bill that has never had a hearing in the committee, even though it has been around for three Congresses. Those who favor it have never made a record of why they think it is necessary. The opponents from most of the States, if you look at this map there are a few States we have not heard from, but almost all the States attorneys general and Governors and
agriculture commissioners and the food and drug people in those States oppose it, but they have never been able to come in and tell the Congress why. So the other side has never had a chance, nor has our side of the aisle, to hear testimony and to make a record, and yet we are told this bill is well balanced.
Let me point out that the proponents of this legislation have said a lot of different things. It has been almost like a covert legislative campaign. They have sent people in from the districts, from some trade association or other, and said to Members, this is a national uniformity bill. It is just going to clarify the law. It is going to require all the States to have the same rules so that we will not have the burden on interstate commerce.
Well, they have never shown there is any burden on interstate commerce. But it sounded so good that many Members cosponsored the bill without fully understanding that this bill is going to overturn 200 State laws that protect our food supply. Why are we doing that? What is broken about our system of federalism that allows the States to pass laws to protect their own people? And now the proponents of this bill want States to come, hat in hand, to the Food and Drug Administration, a wonderful bureaucracy
at the Federal level, not even elected people, and that agency will decide whether the State laws can continue in effect? They will have higher power than the States legislatures and Governors?
That is not a well-balanced or well-thought-through piece of legislation. And now we are on the floor arguing a rule that would so severely limit the time for debate on all the amendments and this bill that you have to ask yourself: Why is this going on? What are they hiding from us? Why don't they want this bill to be held up to public scrutiny through hearings? And why won't they let this bill be fully debated on the floor of the House of Representatives by the people's elected Representatives?
Why do they have to rush this through?
Mr. Speaker, this is the early part of March. We have barely been in session. We have been meeting 2 1/2 days out of each week as we go from recess in January to recess in February to recess in March. Let us have another day. Congress can do its work. We don't have to rush out to another CODEL or another junket. We ought to do our job and let people come in and tell us what they think of bills and not get steamrolled into something that no one has fully examined and that would repeal State laws.
So let us vote against this legislation.
Mr. GINGREY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 3 minutes. In response to the gentleman from California, in regard to those 200 State laws that, as he said, protect our food supply, Mr. Speaker, many if not most, maybe not all, but many if not most of those State laws would be incorporated in the national food label that is allowed by the FDA.
And in this bill in particular, and I know the gentleman is very familiar with the bill, but let me just read a couple of provisions. The provision allows both exemptions from national uniformity and the adoption of a State requirement as a uniformed national standard, one of those 200 he mentioned, any State may petition the FDA to obtain an exemption from the requirement of national uniformity for a particular requirement. The FDA may grant the exemption if the State or local requirement protects
an important public interest that would otherwise be unprotected.
Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, this provision recognizes that special circumstances may justify a warning requirement in a particular State like California, or a locality, even though that requirement should not apply throughout the country. Thus, the need for local protection is fully recognized under the legislation.
Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. GINGREY. I yield to the gentleman from California.
Mr. WAXMAN. The problem I have with what you are saying is that a State has to go to the Food and Drug Administration and argue that case, and they may then be allowed to continue their laws. But even if there is no Federal law on the subject, the States may be stopped from enforcing or even legislating in an area to give warnings or set up standards for the safety of the food.
Why should States be required to go to a bureaucratic agency to have permission to do what the Constitution of the United States permits them to do, which is to police powers for the safety and health and well-being of their own citizens? You, particularly from Georgia, ought to appreciate States rights.
Mr. GINGREY. Reclaiming my time, Mr. Speaker, and certainly the gentleman is right, I do honor and respect States rights, but the fact that there are 200 laws today in the 50 States, there could be 800 a year from now and there could be no end to this process.
I think in further responding to the gentleman's inquiry, certainly it is appropriate that States in these situations would appeal to the Federal Government, if you will, the FDA. And the decision to either grant or not grant is not going to be based on anything but solid science, on sound facts and not scare issues, like this issue over the way meats or other foods are processed in a low-oxygen environment to maintain their fresh appearance and their red color, that we have been doing for 4
years in a perfectly safe manner.
Mr. Speaker, I continue to reserve the balance of my time.
Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 30 seconds to the gentleman from California (Mr. Waxman).
Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Speaker, the standard in this bill is not sound science. The standard is for the FDA to decide if it unduly burdens interstate commerce to allow a State to have its own law. Now, I do not know how the FDA makes those kinds of decisions. They are a scientific agency, but they are going to make one on interstate commerce? And I suspect they will be influenced by the lobbyists, just like this whole process has been influenced by the special interests and the lobbyists that want to
keep the States from protecting citizens in those States from unsafe and unhealthy food...
Mr. HINCHEY. Mr. Speaker, this bill is just another example of why the people of this country need to fear this Congress and the people who lead it. What this bill does is preempt State laws on food safety.
We have people who come down here to the floor of the House and argue for States rights. Now they present to us a bill which denies States rights; denies the States the ability to protect their citizens by watching the food that they eat. All of those State laws are going to be washed away by this legislation. It is probably even unconstitutional. The Constitution provides the States with the authority to protect its citizens. But we are now hearing from the majority party that they want to pass
a law which denies States that right. No longer will they be able to protect their citizens.
Eighty percent of our Nation's food safety inspection is regulated by State and local entities. As we have heard, there are 200 laws. It has taken us more than 200 years to get those 200 laws in almost 50 States. Those laws protect our people. Now they are going to turn that over to the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA is not adequately protecting the people of our country today with regard to drug safety. The FDA is too close to the pharmaceutical companies. Yet now they are going to pass
a bill which stops the States from protecting citizens, whether they are eating in a cafeteria, a lunchroom, a hospital, or some other situation, from passing a law that is going to make certain that the food that they are eating there is not going to cause them to be ill, maybe poison them in some way.
That is what they want to do, have the Federal Government step in here on top of the States, deny the States the right that they have under the Constitution to protect the health and safety and welfare of their citizens by passing legislation which preempts all of those State laws. This is a very bad idea and it must be defeated...
Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Speaker, I think we have so little time to talk about this bill on the House floor, I wanted some of our colleagues to understand what kind of laws we are talking about: State laws dealing with adulterated food, emergency permit controls, unsafe food additives, unsafe color additives, new animal drugs, animal feeds, poisonous ingredients in food. These are laws that States have adopted over the years and they are going to be swept away.
It is so inexplicable to me why we would want to do that. States currently carry out 80 percent of food safety protection. There is no evidence they have been acting irresponsibly or incompetently. And in many cases, the Federal Government has never gotten around to looking at these issues because they have deferred to the States on them. So now the State laws will be struck unless the Federal Government allows those State laws to stay in effect and that could mean, even though there is no Federal
warning law, for example, that would take its place. We would have no law at the local or State level, or at the Federal level. I guess the purpose of some of this legislation is to keep the public from knowing about the harm that they may be exposed to in food.
Now Mrs. Capps and a number of others are going to be offering an amendment, the Capps-Stupak-Eshoo-Waxman amendment, that would say that State laws that require notification of substances that may cause cancer and birth defects in reproductive health all ought to be permitted. I hope Members will vote for that amendment and vote against this bill.
Mr. GINGREY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 2 minutes.
Mr. Speaker, the point is, as we have stated repeatedly in regard to this bill, if a State does appeal to the Federal Government, to the FDA, for a labeling requirement that they have concerns about in their particular State, no matter how long it takes the Federal Government to respond, indeed if they do not respond, then that label requirement will be applicable to that unique problem that that State has recognized.
Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. GINGREY. I yield to the gentleman from California.
Mr. WAXMAN. It gives 180 days for the FDA to act. They do not have the resources to do it, but they can simply say this is a burden on interstate commerce, the State law is gone. It does not mean that the State law stays in effect until the Federal Government establishes a national standard. It could strike the State law and have no national standard to replace it.
Mr. GINGREY. Mr. Speaker, reclaiming my time, it is a 180-day appeal process, but if the Federal Government does not respond, it is my understanding, and I will be glad to talk to the gentleman later if he still thinks I am in error in my interpretation of this bill, but I think the point that I made was an accurate statement with regard to that...
Mr. ETHERIDGE. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of H.R. 4167, the National Uniformity for Food Act of 2005.
As a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee, and a cosponsor of this legislation, I support H.R. 4167, to establish a uniform system of food safety and labeling requirements. This legislation is both timely and necessary for security and consistency in a global food economy. Currently, the United States operates under a labeling standard that continues to vary from state to state, with each state being able to create and enforce their own labeling requirements. This creates uncertainty,
confusion, and possible danger to the health and well-being of the consumer; with one state requiring a certain warning label on a product, and another setting a completely different standard.
H.R. 4167 will create a single standard for food nutrition and warning labeling based on the high safety standards that are set by the United States Food and Drug Administration. This will be a national standard that will be applicable to all states. This legislation will continue to allow the FDA to work with states collaboratively in establishing food safety policies and standards.
I understand the concerns some have raised about H.R. 4167, and I voted for several amendments to make clear that I support reliable standards for food safety and public health. Specifically, the Cardoza amendment requires FDA to expedite state petitions involving a food notification requirement for health effects dealing with cancer, reproductive issues, birth defects, or information to parents or guardians concerning children's risk to a certain food. In addition, the Rogers Amendment prohibits
H.R. 4167 from taking affect until after the Department of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, certifies that it will pose no additional risk to the public health or safety from terrorist attacks to the food supply. Finally, I support the Wasserman Schultz amendment to prohibit federal law
from affecting any state law, regulation, prohibition, or other action that establishes a notification requirement regarding the presence or potential effects of mercury in fish and shellfish. H.R. 4167 is common sense legislation that was designed to create uniformity and consistency in labeling to help and protect the American consumer.
I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.
Mr. STARK. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in strong opposition to H.R. 4167, the National Uniformity for Food Act. This bill puts commercial food industry interests ahead of the rights of consumers to be warned about food safety issues.
The National Uniformity for Food Act would preempt all state food safety labeling protections, even if those protections have no effect on interstate commerce. The bill also bars states from limiting particular toxic chemicals in food, even if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not set standards for those chemicals. For example, the current California requirement for point-of-sale warnings about high mercury levels in certain fish would be eliminated if this bill becomes law.
This bill is especially detrimental in states like California that have gone to great lengths to protect consumers through strong food safety labeling requirements. Requirements like California's Proposition 65 have greatly reduced exposure to toxic chemicals in food. California's food safety laws should be a model for the nation. Instead, the grocery and commercial food industries have used their influence in the halls of Congress in an attempt to destroy these laws.
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, and many consumer groups oppose this bill. Mr. Lockyer said in a letter to the California delegation that the National Uniformity for Food Act ``would greatly impede our ability to protect the health of Californians, both under Proposition 65 and under other laws that could be adopted by the voters or our legislature.''
I urge my all my colleagues to stand up for consumers, not corporations, by voting no on the National Uniformity for Food Act...
Mr. GUTKNECHT. Mr. Chairman, I would like to clarify the scope of preemption under H.R. 4167, because some confusing and misleading things have been said on this subject. While I have great respect for the Association of Food and Drug Officials, especially for the work its members do at the state level, I would specifically like to clarify some mistaken points the group made in a letter dated January 16th of this year. This letter stated that H.R. 4167 would preempt state laws on food sanitation,
including milk sanitation statutes on the books in Minnesota and most other states. This is not the case. The bill we're considering today would not preempt state food sanitation standards.
H.R. 4167 only provides for federal preemption of certain requirements of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, or FFDCA, and these are specified in the legislation. If a requirement of the FFDCA is not specified in H.R. 4167, then it will not be preempted by H.R. 4167, and states can establish or maintain requirements that are different from federal ones. This is the case when it comes to sanitation. Again, Mr. Chairman, states would still be free to enact state sanitation standards that
are not identical to federal sanitation standards.
Even if H.R. 4167 did preempt state laws on food sanitation, which it again does not, it would still not preempt state milk sanitation laws. Through this bill, for preemption to be found in general, there must be a conflict between a state law and a federal requirement of the FFDCA or certain other federal laws and regulations. But in the case of milk sanitation, there is no federal law or regulation for a state law to conflict with. There are only the FDA definitions of ``pasteurized'' and ``ultra-pasteurized''
milk, which are agreed upon by agencies at all levels of government and the entire dairy industry, and the general manufacturing practice regulations applicable to all foods. Along these lines, Mr. Chairman, I ask that the dairy industry's letter of support for H.R. 4167 be included in the RECORD following my remarks.
These were conscious decisions made by the authors of H.R. 4167, decisions that, I think it is safe to say, are certainly agreed upon by the over 225 cosponsors of this bill, including myself. We recognize that states have often been at the forefront of regulating food sanitation, and for this reason, one of our legislative intents through this bill was that food sanitation standards should not and would not be preempted.
February 28, 2006.
Members of the House of Representatives,
DEAR REPRESENTATIVES: America's dairy producers and processors urge you to vote for H.R. 4167, the ``National Uniformity for Food Act of 2005.''
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) support H.R. 4167, a bill to amend the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act in the areas of food safety tolerance setting and warning labeling because it takes a measured, science based approach, to achieve labeling uniformity. The bill contains a method for the orderly review and harmonization of existing state food safety adulteration laws and warnings as they relate to Federal law. No existing
state labeling law would be preempted without this review and state requirements under petition would stay in effect during that review.
H.R. 4167 recognizes that it makes no sense to have a ``patchwork quilt'' of different states adopting different regulatory requirements on identical food product labeling. National uniformity in food laws is actually the norm, not the exception. All meat and poultry regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have national uniformity under the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act. The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) of 1990 established uniform
nutrition labeling requirements on manufactured foods. In addition, the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) of 1996 included a uniformity provision for pesticide tolerance standards in food products. H.R. 4167 completes the job by establishing national uniformity for food additives and warning labels.
H.R. 4167 enjoys the support of 227 bipartisan co-sponsors and was reported by a bipartisan vote from the Energy and Commerce Committee on December 15,2005. America's dairy industry believes consumers deserve a single standard when it comes to food safety, and this bill will allow states and the Food and Drug Administration to work collaboratively in establishing sound food safety labeling policies that benefit, not confuse consumers. We urge your vote for H.R. 4167.
President and CEO, International Dairy Foods Association.
President and CEO, National Milk Producers Federation.
AMENDMENT NO. 1 OFFERED BY MR. BARTON OF TEXAS
...My amendment provides clarification on the scope of the bill in two important areas. First, the amendment clarifies that uniformity in notification requirements for warnings does not apply to dietary supplements.
Additionally, during committee consideration of H.R. 4167, some Members expressed some confusion regarding the scope of subsection (f) of the bill. Today's amendment is designed to clear up that confusion and ensure that States can set tolerance levels for substances in food when the Federal Government has not.
Section 2 of the bill extends national uniformity to all aspects of food adulteration. I support the premise of food adulteration and tolerance levels should be uniform throughout the country. If a substance in food is injurious to one State's consumers, it would be injurious to the people of all 50 States. Section 401(a) of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act states a food is adulterated ``if it bears or contains any poisonous or deleterious substance which may render it injurious to health.'' The
FDA currently determines levels of substances in particular foods to ensure that the food remains safe. Foods above those levels are considered adulterated.
The FDA is the world's gold standard for food regulation. If the agency has made a determination that a particular substance in food at a particular level is safe, then it should be safe to be sold in any State. However, if the FDA has not adopted a tolerance level for a substance in a particular food, nor affirmatively rejected a standard, then the State should be allowed to adopt its own standard when it deems necessary.
My amendment clarifies the intent of the authors of the legislation by stating that when there is neither a Federal tolerance level for a substance in a particular food, nor has the FDA made an affirmative rejection of the need for a tolerance for a particular substance, then the State may establish and enforce its own tolerance standard...
Mr. WAXMAN. ...Mr. Chairman, it is claimed that the Barton amendment preserves State and local authorities to act when the Federal Government has not. Unfortunately, the extent of the amendment does not support this statement. The amendment merely provides that States may enforce identical requirements to Federal requirements.
This is a terrible policy. Sixteen years ago, the Food and Drug Administration learned that there were cancer-causing chemicals in soft drinks way above levels that would be permitted in drinking water. Once the soft drink industry promised to address the problem, the FDA did nothing. Under the legislation the House considers today, the States' hands will be tied, even while the FDA continues to do nothing.
The other purpose of this amendment is that it would allow the States to regulate in the area of dietary supplements. The Food and Drug Administration can regulate in that area, but the States could go even further.
Now, I am for States rights, and so if a State wants to go further in the area of dietary supplements, I should not object, although I do not know whether the people who want this bill think that dietary supplements ought to be treated differently than the other foods. Why should we allow the States to regulate in the area of dietary supplements but not in regular food? The distinction does not make a lot of sense.
I do not oppose this amendment. I sought the time for the purposes of debate, but I think the point I would draw to the attention of my colleagues is why are we treating dietary supplements different from other foods? The States have historically dealt in this area, and the States ought to be permitted to deal not just in dietary supplements, but with all food under the police powers that are granted to every State to act to protect their own citizens.
So I want Members to know that this amendment is going to treat dietary supplements in a harsher way, by letting the States act, than we will with regular foods where it comes to a tolerance or a warning label...
The Acting CHAIRMAN. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Barton)...The amendment was agreed to [on a voice vote].
AMENDMENT NO. 2 OFFERED BY MR. CARDOZA OF CA...Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume to offer my amendment to H.R. 4167, the National Uniformity for Food Act.
H.R. 4167 creates two separate petition processes for States that may petition the FDA requesting approval for State labeling requirements. Under the first, the States are given a transitional period to request FDA approval of existing State regulations for food labeling. The second creates a process for States to petition the FDA to approve a national standard for new food labeling requirements, or to exempt a State from certain requirements of national uniformity.
My amendment deals only with the latter, the process for States to petition the FDA to approve national standards for future labeling requirements.
The bill sets strict timelines for FDA action on State petitions for future national standards. Petitions must be published in the Federal Register within 30 days of receipt and made available for public comment. The FDA must approve or deny within 60 days of the close of the public comment period, unless an extension is requested in order to gather more information. However, in all cases, final action must be rendered no later than 120 days after the close of the public comment period.
While I applaud the author for including these timelines, I feel it is important to have an even swifter resolution for those State petitions that may affect our most vulnerable populations. My amendment would further expedite consideration of State petitions seeking adoption of national warning requirements in three circumstances: first, where the proposed warning relates to cancer-causing agents; second, where the proposed warning relates to reproductive effects or birth defects; and, third,
when the requested warning is intended to provide information that will allow parents to understand, monitor, or limit a child's exposure to cancer-causing agents or reproductive or developmental toxins.
My amendment will help ensure that when a State believes a warning should be provided against possible serious health effects or birth defects, FDA consideration of the State request must occur in the shortest period of time possible.
As a member of the California delegation, I stand by my support of the National Uniformity for Food Act, but I also recognize the importance of retaining a State's ability to advocate for their food safety warnings and that that be promoted nationwide. Ultimately, my amendment preserves the goal of H.R. 4167 to have uniform national warnings while also ensuring that Federal action on State requests for important health warnings is not delayed.
Mr. Chairman, I ask for an ``aye'' vote, and I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
This bill requires a State to petition the Food and Drug Administration to see if the Food and Drug Administration will allow the State to continue with its law. Now, many of these laws are dealing with carcinogens and reproductive toxins, very, very serious matters, and the States feel the public ought to be advised about that.
This amendment, however, provides an expedited review. Well, the Congressional Budget Office has said that this is going to cost $100 million over 5 years, and that is to review 200 State petitions, because there are 200 State laws that are going to be wiped out. The Congressional Budget Office says they do not think the FDA will comply in time. So the FDA is going to be mandated to get their review done in an expedited way and it is going to cost us over $100 million, but they are not going to comply.
Well, that is why the States attorneys general have contacted us and they say that this bill is going to create a whole new Federal bureaucracy. Imagine that, Republicans who are sponsoring this bill, and Democrats who have joined with them, who I don't think both sides of the aisle understood the consequences of this bill; that it takes away the States rights to enact legislation in areas of carcinogens and reproductive toxins and other areas where they think the public health and safety may
be at stake, it takes away the States rights to give it to a Federal bureaucracy, and it enhances that Federal bureaucracy with additional burdens but creates no more funding to do that job.
Is this what we have always expected out of Congress; creating a new bureaucracy to act in place of State duly elected governments? I just think this bill, if people will examine it carefully, can't stand the light of day. And I guess that is why we have never had a hearing on it. No one has ever been able to get the pros and the cons. We have no record to substantiate that legislation to start with.
And this amendment, although it is hard to oppose an amendment that says we are going to have an expedited review, although the bill provides for a 180-day review, nobody who has looked at it carefully, especially the Congressional Budget Office, thinks it will make a difference because they are never going to get around to it.
I guess the way to handle it is the Food and Drug Administration can say, very quickly, no, that State law will not be allowed. We won't let them have those warnings for their people. We will just overturn the State law. That will be what they will have to do if they have to do it in an expedited way, especially if they are hearing from special interest groups that want the laws at the State level to be overturned.
But let me just add one other point. We are talking about 200 State laws that are on the books now. But what about other problems in the future that States may find out about that may even be peculiar to that State? They are not going to be looking at that issue any longer because they know that the Federal Government is now preempting the field. But the Federal Government, by preempting the field, it doesn't mean that they are looking at the problem and trying to address it.
So there is a huge vacuum that will be created if this bill becomes law...
[This amendment passed 417-0, with Congressmembers Rohrabacher and Millender-McDonald present and voting "yes."]
AMENDMENT NO. 3 OFFERED BY MR. ROGERS OF MICHIGAN [bill's primary author]...Mr. Chairman, one of the things that we have heard over the course of this debate, and we have had lots of it, almost as many hours of debate as there are pages in the bill, one of the things that we realized along the way is that there was concern about the bioterrorism. We firmly believe that the bill is adequate to deal with those issues. But to try to make sure everybody had a comfort level, we felt it was important to at least acknowledge that we were going to have the DHS and the HHS sign off on this legislation before it takes effect, that there would be no hindrance in defense of bioterrorism when it comes to our food supply. It is not a difficult thing, it is really a commonsense measure. We hope that alleviates some of the concerns we have heard mentioned, and I urge this body's support on this particular measure...
Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Chairman...I think this is a good amendment. After this amendment is disposed of, and I hope favorably, I will be offering another amendment on the same subject of bioterrorism. I think any protections that we put into place at this time of threat of terrorism are wise. I will discuss my amendment at the appropriate time, but I join my colleague from Michigan in urging support for this amendment...
The amendment was agreed to on a voice vote.
AMENDMENT NO. 4 OFFERED BY MR. WAXMAN [CA]...PROTECTION AGAINST BIOTERRORISM....Nothing in this Act or the amendments made by this Act shall have any effect upon a State law, regulation, action, or proposition if a Governor or State legislature certifies that such law, regulation, action, or proposition is useful in establishing or maintaining a food supply that is adequately protected from bioterrorism attack.
...Mr. WAXMAN. ...My amendment allows the States to retain the authority to decide what is important in preparing for and responding to terrorism threats. If a Governor or State legislature certifies a State action in this regard, it is not going to be preempted. The States will be able to make those decisions on bioterrorism, should, God forbid, such a thing happen.
As the Nation's first responders to bioterrorist attacks, State and local governments have worked to have effective programs that can respond flexibly should a nightmare occur. These State food safety officials have stated repeatedly that they are deeply concerned that H.R. 4167 will undermine the States' ability to effectively prevent and respond to bioterrorist attacks.
The States learned from Hurricane Katrina that it is ill-advised to rely on Federal agencies to solve their problems when a disaster occurs. Under H.R. 4167, even with this last amendment, the States will be in exactly that position, because they will have to rely on the Federal Government.
Under the bill, H.R. 4167, States will be required to go through a bureaucratic Federal process merely to protect their citizens. Even in the case of an imminent hazard, States must make a series of findings, and even then are only authorized to establish a requirement which could be interpreted to require the passage of a new law or promulgation of new regulations.
In the face of a determined terrorist threat, this burdensome approach seems highly unwarranted and potentially disastrous. My amendment will go a long way to addressing these shortfalls. It is an amendment that State food officials think is merited, and they have warned us about any weakening of their ability to respond to any bioterrorist threat...
Mr. DEAL of Georgia. ...Mr. Chairman, I must rise in opposition to the amendment. I believe that Mr. Waxman is well-intentioned in the amendment language that he has offered, and it is a matter of perspective as to whether or not this amendment would cure or would create more problems. It is my opinion that it would do the latter.
The last thing that any of us want, I think, is to create anything that will create more bureaucratic wrangling between the States and the Federal Government and pointing of fingers back and forth in a time of disaster, and especially in an event such as a terrorist attack or something that would contaminate our food supply.
Mr. ROGERS of Michigan. Mr. Chairman, I just wanted to make clear, there has been a lot of misinformation on that bill. I was a former FBI agent. One thing I learned, we used to call it the brick agent, the guy that is out on the street. You don't want to have to ask permission to take an exigent circumstance under control. You don't want to do have to do that.
This bill protects State, local and Federal Government action in cases of bioterrorism. We would have not have drafted a bill that would have done otherwise. I think what you are misinterpreting is the fact that once they take an action, they have to tell the FDA.
Why that is a good idea is because if they find there is an area where there is adulteration or poisoning, let us say, in Oregon or someplace else, there might be another place that they can go and short-circuit that problem somewhere else in the country. It is good policy to have that notification that there was food that was adulterated or poisoned or a victim of bioterrorism that needs to be addressed at that national level. Take the action, tell the Feds so they can get that information across the rest of the country.
This is the right thing to do. I would urge the rejection of the Waxman amendment, which I think makes it more confusing, not less.
[This amendment failed on a 164-255 vote, with Rohrabacher voting "no" and Millender-McDonald recorded as "not voting."]
AMENDMENT NO. 5 OFFERED BY MRS. CAPPS [CA]......I am offering this amendment with colleagues, Representative Eshoo, Representative Stupak and Representative Waxman. Our amendment is fairly straightforward. It would ensure that this bill would not preempt State laws that require proper warning on foods that do contain carcinogens, that do contain chemicals that could cause birth defects or other reproductive defects or could cause allergic reactions with sulfiting agents.
The bill as currently written would effectively wipe out important existing State food safety warning laws in these very areas. It is unconscionable that Congress could create a system that essentially conceals from consumers known possible risks to their health. This is especially troubling considering how successful these State laws have been at better informing the public about potential problems in their foods. Perhaps most importantly, some of these State laws would be wiped out by H.R.
4167 which have led manufacturers to remove harmful contents from food products altogether.
For example, food warning laws in California have resulted in the decrease of arsenic in bottled water everywhere; a reduction of lead and calcium supplements and also a removal of the potassium bromate from bread wherever it is sold in the United States.
It was under such a State law that warnings about pregnant women and alcohol first came about, a State law. However, this bill would end that process.
Mr. Chairman, public health experts everywhere recognize the importance of providing the best available information to consumers regarding possible health risks in food products, and that is why the Association of Food and Drug Officials, as well as a bipartisan coalition of 39 State attorneys general are on record opposing this.
Supporters of this bill will argue that this legislation establishes an appeals process for States seeking to establish their own food safety measures. This process would be burdensome and costly. The CBO estimates it could cost taxpayers as much as $100 million in the first years for States to apply for waivers for their State laws and for the FDA to process these appeals.
Our amendment would dramatically reduce those costs by keeping intact some of the most critical State laws already on the books which do ensure consumer protections. It would protect State laws that mandate consumer notifications for products that we know can cause cancer, can cause birth defects and may cause allergic reactions associated with sulfiting agents.
Mr. Chairman, we are fortunate to have made great advancements in recognizing potential health risks posed by certain substances. We want to ensure that this knowledge reaches the public, where the forces of the market can determine the need for arsenic in bottled water or of potassium bromate in bread.
Let us not keep consumers in the dark about what is in the foods they eat. I urge my colleagues to support this amendment...
Mr. DEAL of Georgia...Mr. Chairman, this amendment would exempt three categories of warnings and standards from a national uniformity standard: those relating to risks of cancer; those relating to reproductive or developmental toxins; and, third, those sulfiting agents in bulk foods.
Warnings on food should apply in all 50 States. If a warning is justified, consumers in all States should get the information. If food is not safe in 49 States, then it should also not be safe in the other, or vice versa. If a warning is not justified, then consumers should not be confused by different warnings in different States.
If a State has reliable scientific information that demonstrates that a warning is needed for a particular food, then in the interest of public health, it should share that information with the FDA and petition for a new national standard. Under the bill, a State can petition to establish a new national standard or a specific exemption to uniformity where local circumstances warrant. The petition process will ensure that States collaborate with the FDA and will help foster greater food safety
throughout the country.
Just a few minutes ago, by voice vote, we adopted Mr. Cardoza's amendment, which, for the first time, will put an assurance that there will be an expedited review in all of the three categories that this amendment addresses.
Under the legislation, no existing State requirement would be preempted without the opportunity of the State to petition the FDA to exempt the State requirement from the uniform standard. Once a petition is received, the State requirement will remain in effect until the Secretary either accepts or rejects the petition.
I believe we have adequate protections, especially with the Cardoza language that was just adopted by voice a few minutes ago...
Ms. ESHOO. Mr. Chairman, I thank my colleague for yielding me time.
Mr. Chairman, I am really pleased to cosponsor this amendment. I think it is a very important one, and I think it is important also for people that are listening in across the country who support this amendment. Every leading environmental organization in the country supports this amendment, and consumer groups support this amendment.
I think it is important for people across the country to know who is for the bill, and it will say something about the effort that is here on the floor today. The feed industry is for the bill. The frozen food people are for the bill. The Plastics Council is for the bill. Soft drink people, food processors, food additives.
The food additives people are for the bill. Doesn't that say something about what is going into our food and lessens the standards in our country for what we consume? That just gives you, excuse the expression, a taste of who is for the bill.
Now, this amendment allows States to retain and establish their own food safety warnings or standards to protect consumers in four key areas. It is against the risk of birth defects, it is against reproductive health problems, cancer and allergic reactions. Those are four major areas that every single person in this country cares about because they are so serious.
Without this amendment, States are going to have to come to the Federal Government and say, mother, may I?
My friends, nothing is broken. Nothing is broken. Were it not for these special interests that have lobbied so hard for this, which is what is wrong with Washington, D.C. today, we would not have to be on the floor fighting to protect what local governments and State governments have, the laws they have placed on the books.
Now, here is an example. Here is an example of what we have in California. This is the warning. This is the warning that is in the grocery stores and the appropriate places for pregnant women and others to warn them: ``Pregnant and nursing women, women who may become pregnant, and young children should not eat the following fish,'' and it names them.
You know what is going to happen when this thing becomes law? It is going to be buried on a Web site at the FDA. Who the heck is going to go on a Web site at the FDA to read the fine print to find out if they have a warning? That warning is not enforceable. That is why we are offering this amendment in the most key health areas. I would urge my colleagues to support the amendment.
Mr. Chairman, I want to add one more comment to this: Whose constituent has come up to them and said, ``Get rid of these good laws in our respective States and local governments''? Not one of my constituents has.
This march to folly, and that is why attorneys general across the United States are opposed to it, it is why food and agriculture heads from States are opposed to it. This is not about consumers, this is about special interests...
Mr. ROGERS of Michigan. Mr. Chairman, this debate has certainly turned some interesting corners in the last few weeks, and again we are fast approaching as many hours debating as there are pages in the bill; 226 cosponsors and 59 Democrats joined in a bipartisan effort for national food safety labeling, a pretty powerful thing.
I commend Mr. Waxman for standing up and saying that we need national nutrition labels across the country. Why? Because the periodic tables in California are not any different than the periodic tables in Michigan or Maine or Florida, thank goodness. Science is science is science.
If we are going to protect pregnant women, if we are going to protect children, if we are going to protect mothers and fathers, if we are going to be for apple pie and Chevrolets, then we ought to do it in all 50 States, because a chicken grown in Louisiana is going to end up on a plate in Michigan; peas grown in Florida are going to end up in Louisiana; crawfish is going to come north and west and south, and we are going to send navy beans south, and we grow some good ones up there in Michigan.
We have cherries that are going to go all across the country. This is an interstate matter.
I can't think of anything more important than our food safety. I have heard so much misinformation, even today. ``It is going to wipe out the laws to protect consumers.'' Wrong. This bill will not do that. ``The AGs are all for this bill for the right reason.'' Two of the issues that they talked about, preempted in their letter, were factually incorrect. It wasn't right. They were making the wrong argument. They were wrong.
Sulfites in Michigan, I happen to agree with you. And I will tell you what; if they are bad for Michigan citizens, I think they are bad for all of the other 49 States. If you are traveling to see your mother and you have a sulfite problem, if you are in Michigan today, you are fine. If you are in Ohio, you are not going to do so well. That is wrong. We can do better. This bill says we can do better.
I appreciate your passion for these issues. I don't think we are all that far apart about wanting food safety. I don't. I think how we get there is the problem.
So to have personal attacks and charges of backroom deals and those things is wrong. I think you know it is wrong. I think we have come to the point in the bill where you run out of facts and you start going in a different direction.
This bill is about protecting the food safety of every American in this great country. I think we ought to set aside maybe some of those differences that we have and acknowledge this is the right thing to do, like we did on nutritional labeling, like we did when we set the standards of what food gets to be called organic, a Federal standard. Why? Because we felt it was important enough to have a Federal standard for the protection of every American, not just California, not just Florida, not just Michigan.
Mr. Chairman, I have been a little disappointed with the tenor of debate at times in this particular engagement on something I think is so important and so critical to our safety, our food safety. I would urge this body to reject this amendment. It tries to carve something out to confuse consumers, which is exactly where we don't want to go. That is just not a place that we want to go.
Mr. Chairman, I think we know at the end of the day this is the right thing to do. As a matter of fact, even in the letters sent in from State bureaucrats and the trial lawyers who oppose this bill they are saying, well, national labeling is okay, but we have some other concerns. Why? Because you can't make a good argument about why uniform labeling across the country for the protection of citizens and what they put in their body is a good idea. What do we hear? Adulterated food or poisoned food,
you usurp our ability. No, that is protected in this bill.
If we are going to argue about what we are doing, let's argue on the facts, the correct facts. I think we all probably at the end of the day know this is the right thing to do.
I am going to ask you to step aside from what you think you need to do, step off your talking points, and say let us do something that is good for America. Don't worry about politics and all the other people that get involved sometimes outside of this building. Worry about what is right for the people of America. You will come to the right conclusion.
If you look at the facts that are wrong consistently in your arguments, you are going to be with us. I appreciate your care and concern. I know you are going to be with us at the end of the day.
I urge Members to vote in support of the bill and against the Capps amendment...
Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Chairman, if the people who are supporting this law were sincere, they would go to the Food and Drug Administration under current law and ask them to adapt standards all across the country on all of these issues. They don't have to wait until the State petitions them. The Food and Drug Administration can look at a problem now and say California has a law, Michigan has a law, those are good ideas. We are going to survey what the States are doing and make them apply all across the
country. They could do that now. But this bill puts at risk all the State laws, and that is what is really behind this legislation, putting at risk all the State laws.
Now, the Capps amendment is a combination of amendments that were offered in the Commerce Committee that had bipartisan support, very close to a majority, but not quite.
If we had a hearing, maybe the others would been convinced. And what this amendment seeks to do is to say, all right, if this law goes into effect at least where the States have adopted warning labels on carcinogens, on reproductive toxins, on allergic reactions to sulfites, leave those State laws alone, do not wipe them out, because you would like to argue that there ought to be 50 laws, 50 States to have one law, which can be done now. Leave those laws alone.
And it also says that when it comes to standards protecting children, let the States decide that issue. There are many children who suffer from cancer, and more and more we are learning that cancer is caused by environmental exposures. And one of the major environmental exposures is in food.
If a parent, and all parents want to know this, having petitioned their State and have convinced their legislators to have a warning label that there is a carcinogen in the food, why should the Federal Government prevent that from happening, or have a standard that says they will not be allowed to have carcinogens or certain toxins in food that can harm children.
Why should States be precluded from doing that? I find it disingenuous when the proponents of this bill say, I want the same thing as what these States are providing. I just want everybody to have it. The States do not have to act if the Federal Government has acted. If the Federal Government has acted for everyone, then there is no need for State laws; but if the Federal Government has not acted, the States ought to be able to act on their own in this area.
So the Capps amendment that is sponsored by many of us is narrow, and it simply says it will allow the warning labels if the States determine them for carcinogens, reproductive toxins and allergic reactions. Let the States act where they are trying to protect children from harmful substances in food.
I urge support for the Capps amendment.
Mr. DEAL of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I have difficulty understanding why any State that feels that it has the good science and the research to justify putting labels of warning on their products would be unwilling to share that information with the agency at the Federal level that is charged with that responsibility.
Now, unfortunately there is a more elemental argument that has not really been addressed in this discussion here. And I do not question anybody's motives. I regret that the last speaker maybe sort of questioned the motives of some who are advocating this bill.
But let me harken back to days that predate even this institution and this building in which we are now sitting. One of the fundamental debates that engaged our original forefathers and colonists, the debate between the old Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and the Articles of Confederation that proceeded that, one of the critical issues was the right to regulate interstate commerce.
Now, in those days, you could say, prior to our Constitution that gave the authority to the Federal Government to regulate interstate commerce, you could say, well, you are not going to be able to bring your peanuts from Georgia or your peaches from South Carolina or your apples from Vermont into my State unless you put my label on it. And our Founding fathers decided that one of the reasons the articles did not work was because you could not have a Nation that allowed these barriers to be erected at the State lines.
Now, if the issue is the safety of the people of this country, how do you justify not wanting those same protections for everybody?
Now, I think there has been a misstatement that has been repeated here. If a State has a warning, and that warning is in place now, a label, and they petition the Federal Government and the FDA, and they say, we wish you to consider this, and the Federal Government just does not take a position on it, then their State regulation remains in effect.
If, however, the Federal Government looks at the issue, and the FDA decides that the science does not justify impediment, then under those circumstances, there would not be uniformity, and, therefore, the State requirement would not be allowed to pertain.
So if the States are so sure of their position, I see no reason why they would not want to share that information with the FDA so that the other States can have equal protection, and not just reerect some of the very barriers that created the impediments under the Articles of Confederation and led to the right of this body, under this type of deliberation, to consider under the interstate commerce jurisdiction the right of uniformity in things that do have an effect about articles moving in our interstate commerce.
[This amendment failed on a 161-259 vote...with Congressman Rohrabacher voting "no"...and Congresswoman Millender-McDonald recorded as "not voting."]
AMENDMENT NO. 6 OFFERED BY MS. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ...I ask your support of my amendment, which will add State fish and shellfish methylmercury notification laws to this act's current list of exemptions.
The gentleman from Georgia outlined that if there is a problem with any food, that we should have national notification so that everyone in America may be notified regarding those concerns. The problem in particular when you are talking about fish and shellfish is that much of the problem deals with recreational fishing. So, for example, in Georgia, you might have a different level of mercury in the lakes and rivers there as opposed to the level of mercury in the lakes and rivers in Michigan.
So it is imperative that we have the ability to notify, under a State's discretion the level of mercury poisoning and the caution and concern that those residents should have in that particular State.
Methylmercury poisoning is a growing crisis in our country. The FDA recommends that pregnant women completely stop eating larger predatory fish, because the average methylmercury content per serving is so high that just one male is unhealthy.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that children and pregnant women can have significant exposure if they consume excess amounts of fish. Several States have begun to address current mercury levels. In fact, 44 States have issued some form of a methylmercury advisory.
Members, I know you all share my concern for our children's health and well-being. This amendment will not undermine the sponsor's intent. There are other exemptions in this bill. If there is any substance that we exempt and ensure that there can be differing levels of advisories across the country, it is methylmercury poisoning.
Mr. Chairman, I urge the Members support the amendment...
Mr. ROGERS of Michigan. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the gentlewoman's intention here. But, again, the facts of the case are this: The toxicity level of those fish, if it is higher or lower in any particular place, the threshold that makes it toxic is the same.
It is the same for people in California. It is the same for people in Texas. It is the same for people in Michigan. So what we are saying is, yes, this is a very important issue, and we need to make sure that we understand what that toxicity level is. And if there are unique challenges to any particular State, that State can apply through the FDA for that particular area. We have even built provisions into the bill to take into consideration.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. ROGERS of Michigan. I yield to the gentlewoman from Florida.
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Chairman, a woman who does not have access to prenatal care, who does not know that she is pregnant, who already has a high level of mercury poisoning in her bloodstream, as many, many women across this country do, and then becomes pregnant and continues to consume high levels of oil-based fish, how is that woman supposed to be advised that she should not continue to eat tuna, mackerel, salmon without going to the doctor? Is she likely to have access to a computer and
the FDA's Website to get that warning? I really doubt it.
Mr. ROGERS of Michigan. Well, again, the State can apply for those warning labels. There is nothing in here that prevents that from happening. And, again, if it is good for a woman in Texas or Missouri, or fill in the blank, it is good for all 50 States. The toxicity level will not change. The danger of that toxicity level will not change.
Let me tell you what else happens, and we need to be real careful about this, because we need to blend all science and remove emotion, because this is what we found happened. It was an interesting study, and I would encourage the gentlewoman to read it. It is the Tufts Health and Nutrition Letter that recently reported on several studies that documents some of the government warnings about mercury in fish can do more harm than good. It is interesting why.
They reported that the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis conducted this study, which concluded that if Americans cut their consumption of fish by one-sixth, as they did after the mercury-focused 2001 warning, an additional 8,000 deaths per year will occur annually from heart disease and stroke.
What we have found is that you have to got to blend good science, remove the emotion, because in some cases it would be appropriate to consume fish because it is healthy. There are some of those fish oils that are very good for you.
And what they found is, listen, you guys are doing more harm than good. You are killing 8,000 more people a year because we have an obesity problem in America, we have a health consumption problem in America. This is causing more harm than good. So we have got to find that balance.
I argue that good science is good science. Again, if we apply the periodic tables in all 50 States uniformly as we should, with scientific lenses, we are going to come to the right conclusion to protect every pregnant woman in America...
[This amendment passed on a 253-168 vote...with Millender-McDonald voting "yes" and Rohrabacher voting "no."]
A motion was then made to "recommit" the bill to a committee and return it with amendments that don't preempt state laws on notifying consumers when meat or fish are treated with carbon monoxide.
Mr. STUPAK. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to offer this motion to recommit. My motion protects the rights of States to notify consumers about carbon monoxide treated meat, poultry and fish.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct your attention to these pictures. Which meat do you think is older? The red meat on top, or the brown meat on the bottom?
Both are the same age. Both have been sitting in a refrigerator, side by side, for 5 months.
Mr. Speaker, the meat on the top has been packaged in carbon monoxide which causes the meat to look red and fresh long into the future. The meat on the bottom has not, and it is brown and slimy. Like I said, the meat on the top is 5 months old and looks as good as new, but it is not. If you consume it, you could become severely ill from a food-borne pathogen like E. coli, and possibly die.
Packing meat in carbon monoxide without labeling is consumer deception at best; and at worse, it could become a major health threat. The FDA, without looking at any independent studies, has determined it has no objection to allowing meat to be packaged in carbon monoxide. The FDA merely reviewed the meat industry's carbon monoxide proposal. By allowing the injection of carbon monoxide in meat and seafood packaging, the meat industry stands to gain $1 billion a year because as meat begins to turn brown, consumers reject it.
Color is the most important factor the public uses to determine what meat they buy, according to studies dating back to 1972. Yet the FDA, in making its decision, only looked at information provided to it by the meat industry.
It did not do its own independent research or studies. It did not solicit any public comments. Currently States may pass their own laws to notify consumers that their meat may be packaged with carbon monoxide and may not be as fresh as it appears. But those laws will about be overturned if this bill becomes law.
My motion to recommit is simple. It allows States to act regarding consumer notification of carbon monoxide-treated meat, poultry and fish. Is this really the standard we want for our country for the public health and safety of food, which have been primarily left to the States? We should not tie the hands of the States who want to protect the health of their citizens from this deceptive practice.
The National Farmers Union, Consumer Federation of America, the Center for Science in the Public Interest all agree on the State's right to label this food should be protected.
One more prop. Take a look at this Coke can. Differing States have different deposit amounts on it. States like Michigan has 10 cents; States like Massachusetts, Maine, Hawaii, 5 cents.
According to this rule, there is no uniformity, every State does it a little differently. It will still exist, but underneath the Rogers amendment, we can't protect our meat from carbon monoxide. Why do we have to have one standard here, but when it comes to returning the deposit, we would have standards and we don't worry about uniformity? Let's pass the motion to recommit...
Ms. PELOSI [D., CA, Democrats' House Minority Leader] I thank the gentleman for his leadership on this important motion to recommit.
Mr. Speaker, I am absolutely certain that every woman who served in this body is asked the same question I am as I travel across the country as House Democratic leader. Why did you get involved in politics?
I always respond in the same way. As the mother of five children, and now the grandmother of five grandchildren, I view my work in politics as an extension of my role as mother. All of us as parents want the best for our children. We want to do everything we can to keep them safe. But there are some things that are not in our power. For that we look to government, for clean air, for clean water and for food safety.
Today Republicans in Congress are shredding the food safety net that we have built in our country, and this bill puts our children and future generations at risk. This bill, and the words in it, should be fighting words for moms across the country about the safety of their children.
The debate on this bill gives new meaning to the words ``food fight.'' Mr. Speaker, that is why I am opposing this legislation. The effects of this bill are breathtaking. It undermines the lifesaving laws in place throughout our country, voiding approximately 200 State laws on food safety and labeling. The bill will do away with shellfish safety standards, laws in at least 16 States, milk safety laws in 50 States and restaurant and food service establishments, again in all 50 States. That is
why 39 attorneys general, Republicans and Democrats, are opposing this bill, because it increases risks and undermines consumer protections. That is why I urge my colleagues to support the Stupak amendment motion to recommitment.
You be the judge. When you shop for meat or fish, do you want to know how long it has been on the shelf? The motion to recommit would ensure States whether companies could treat packaged meat and fish with carbon monoxide to make them look better.
Mr. Speaker, they say that a picture is worth 1,000 words. With that thought, I will yield back my time, submit the rest of my words for the RECORD, and urge my colleagues to observe this picture and decide if you want to eat any of that meat. Vote for the Stupak amendment and oppose the underlying bill. Vote for the children of America...
Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the motion to recommit...Let me say right up front that I don't want to eat anything that has been sitting in the refrigerator for 5 months that hasn't been cooked. Nobody is for that. I don't believe anybody is. I would point out, though, that nothing in this bill prohibits a State from establishing a freshness dating State provision. It is on page 14, and it starts in line 11, and it goes through line 16. Nothing in this section or section 403(a) relating to food shall be construed within a State or political or subdivision
of the State from establishing or enforcing or continuing in effect a requirement relating to freshness dating.
The gentleman from Michigan's underlying motion to commit doesn't really deal with the dating aspect, as in dating the food, trying to go out on a date with some food, you know. It relates to the fact that it would prevent carbon monoxide, CO, from being used as a preservative in the packaging. The United States Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration have, for the last 4 years, permitted that. Right now there is a proceeding at the FDA on a citizen's petition that is directly related to Mr. Stupak's motion to recommit.
There is absolutely no need to legislate in this area. If, in fact, there is something wrong, and there is nothing wrong, there is no scientific basis at all to say that using carbon monoxide as a preservative, when you package the food, is a health hazard or a scientific problem at all. But if it were to be, the FDA has a proceeding right now. Plain and simple, this is more of a marketing, competitive issue. There is a company that is at a competitive disadvantage, and they would like to see carbon monoxide not be allowed to be used.
That is a whole different market-based issue. That is not a legislative issue. I would oppose the motion to recommit and support the underlying bill...