Republicans propose looser meat plant regs, but Ronholm says no
Republican members of the House Judiciary Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law Subcommittee urged Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to reduce food safety regulations on smaller meat processing plants, but Brian Ronholm, a former Agriculture Department deputy undersecretary for food safety, urged Perdue not to reduce the regulations.
“As the Trump administration responds to the coronavirus pandemic and implements Executive Order 13924’s requirements for regulatory reform, we urge you to revisit burdensome regulations that create barriers to entry and lessen competition in the nation’s meat processing industry. Because of consolidation, the supply chain suffers when large meat processors slow or shut down. Reducing regulatory burdens will increase competition and strengthen a crucial industry at an important time,” the Republican members wrote to Perdue.
But Ronholm, who served in the Obama administration and is now food policy director of Consumer Reports, urged caution. In an email to The Hagstrom Report, he said, “Reducing food safety regulations for small meat slaughter and processing establishments is a dangerous idea. It is critical to be vigilant about food safety regardless of how the food is produced, because pathogens do not discriminate. Hazardous food-borne pathogens such as E. coli, salmonella and listeria that kill thousands every year do not bypass certain facilities just because its method of production is perceived to be more charming than another. Supporting local and regional food systems is a laudable goal, but it never should be at the expense of critical food safety regulations.”
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The House passed S.4054, the Grain Standards Reauthorization Act of 2020, by voice vote.