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The Internet Kitchen: Food Safety!

by Nick

There was finally some movement on a piece of legislation regarding Food Safety. S.510 passed the Senate this week although it looks like it might get stalled because of some procedural rules. In fact, it was pretty much the only thing the Senate did this week as far as I can tell.

I don’t usually like to talk politics on Macheesmo, but I thought it’d be good to at least bring up this bill since it obviously intersects with Macheesmo.

In short, this bill dramatically expands the authority of the FDA to inspect food production facilities, issue recalls, and generally supervise the safety of the food on our shelves.

The plus side of this is that hopefully we can prevent huge recalls like the egg recall earlier this year or if recalls need to happen, they’ll happen faster.

But there’s a dark underbelly of this bill that I think is important to discuss as well. The original version of the bill increased regulations on all food production facilities, not just the big boys. Think local producers, farmer’s markets, and fruit stands. In other words, it would be more expensive (possibly prohibitively expensive) for those types of food producers to stay in the market.

Now, of course there was some backlash to this part of the bill because people love their farmer’s markets and lord knows I do. This resulted in the Tester Amendment which gives smaller producers a way to opt-out of the larger, expensive regulation procedures. Unfortunately, it looks like some of the requirements that you have to meet to opt-out are almost as burdensome as the full force of the bill…

So, as you might guess, I like parts of this bill and dislike parts of it. But I encourage you to do your own reading on it. Here’s some resources:

The OpenCongress Summary
Summary on the Tester Amendment (Maybe a bit biased)
A Stale Food Fight (Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser)

If I could have a golden pen and add just one thing to this bill, it would be provisions on labeling. I really wish we would improve the labeling of foods in the US to show genetically modified foods or just so consumers can be generally better informed.

Sorry for the politics! Back to cooking.

Next, week I’m posting nothing but cookie recipes (and awesome cookie recipes). I’ve left Thursday blank though so you guys can vote for the cookie you want on Thursday.

And a few more food links!

Ruddy Ducks, The Original Butterball – I love duck so much but it’s kind of a hard bird to find. It’s also hard to know what you’re getting. This is just a fantastic write-up on some duck history. It’s a really great read. (@ Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook)

Healthy Snacking 101 – I’m a pretty big snacker and the word on the street is that it’s a fantastic way to keep your metabolism and energy levels high. Of course, that assumes that your snacking on the right stuff! Here’s a good primer on the right kind of snacking with some great examples to get you started. (@ Summer Tomato)

Frito Salad – I grew up eating frito pie. It was a complete staple in my diet. (Mental note: make frito pie) This is a fun twist on that idea. I’m not sure I would love the dressing on top, but who knows. (@ Vanilla Sugar)

Homemade Ramen Noodles – There are some things that just seem beyond my reach and I always thought that ramen noodles were firmly in that category. After reading this fantastic post though, I’m thinking that maybe I can pull them off. (@ No Recipes)

Have a great weekend everyone!

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One comment on “The Internet Kitchen: Food Safety!

  1. I'm kind of with you in ambivalence about this act. In theory, I think it's nice for the FDA to have some teeth when it comes to food safety, but there's the problem that the agency is in the back pocket of the giant food and drug lobbies. The FDA already has pretty strong oversight powers on the drug side of things and there's none of the fierce regulation you'd want to see there. I'm afraid that the only real effect this act is going to have is to make it harder for local food producers.

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