Thursday, July 2, 2009

H.R. 875 Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009

In the effort to protect the nation’s food supply, the Constitution allows the Congress to "insure domestic Tranquility" (preamble), "provide for the…general Welfare of the United States." (Art I sec 8) and "to regulate Commerce with Foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with Indian Tribes." These elements of the Constitution work together to provide Congress the framework for the debate on protecting the food supply. The problem I see with H.R. 875 is that it reaches will beyond regulating the Commerce among the several States by putting federal regulations directly upon the food "establishments." Such heavy handed actions are not needed to protect the food supply of the nation. Acting under the Commerce Clause, the federal government needs to interact with the states and foreign governments only by regulating that food manufacture/preparation that does not meet certain standards will not be allowed out of the state(s) where it was manufactured/prepared or allowed into the country. It would then be left to the States/Indian Tribes to figure out what level of standards and how to implement them as would be best for their citizens and their commerce, knowing that if the standard is not high enough the federal government will not allow their food to be shipped out of the state/tribe. In this way the federal government can protect the nation’s food supply while not out stepping its Constitutional authority nor infringing upon the sovereignty of the several States/Indian Tribes.

‘But RJ, but RJ…what about food produced/served within the same state, how do we make sure it is fit for consumption in the state of Oklahoma?’ If you are from Maine, that is none of your concern. If Oklahoma gets a reputation for serving bad food people won’t visit Oklahoma. And if you are from Oklahoma then don’t look to the federal government to solve your food issue, look to yourselves and maybe your state legislature.

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