Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FACT CHECK; Backyard Veggie Gardens Still Free to Flourish FACT: Food Regulations Don't Apply to Personal Produce Consumption

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FACT CHECK; Backyard Veggie Gardens Still Free to Flourish FACT: Food Regulations Don't Apply to Personal Produce Consumption

Article excerpt

Byline: CAROLE FADER

A Times-Union reader wants to know:

An e-mail I received said the new food safety regulations will affect how we grow fruits and vegetables in our home gardens. Is this true?

This claim has been perpetrated lately on various blogs, which spawn the chain e-mails. PolitiFact.com, a nonpartisan Pulitzer Prize-winning project of The St. Petersburg Times, found this on a website called NaturaNews:

"Senate Bill 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, has been called 'the most dangerous bill in the history of the United States of America.' It would grant the U.S. government new authority over the public's right to grow, trade and transport any foods. This would give Big Brother the power to regulate the tomato plants in your backyard. ... This tyrannical law puts all food production (yes, even food produced in your own garden) under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security. Yep - the very same people running the TSA and its naked body scanner/passenger groping programs."

The food safety bill sailed through both houses of Congress earlier in the month but was in jeopardy for awhile because of a constitutional requirement that bills dealing with revenue originate in the House, not the Senate. Back on track, the House passed the bill Dec 21 and it now awaits President Barack Obama's signature.

The legislation gives broad new powers to the Food and Drug Administration (such as being able to issue a recall without depending on companies to voluntarily comply), places new responsibilities on farmers and food companies to prevent contamination, and for the first time sets safety standards for imported foods. It will affect all whole and processed foods except meat, poultry and some egg products, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, The Washington Post reported.

Although the Department of Homeland Security is mentioned in the measure, PolitiFact.com notes, it is only in regard to regulating food imported from overseas and in preventing intentional poisoning of the food supply.

The bill had bipartisan support in Congress, but was not without controversy. Consumer advocates say such regulations were a long time coming. …

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