|Posted on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 - 2:01 pm: || |
WASHINGTON - Labels telling consumers where their meat comes from must be in place beginning next year, but lawmakers took action Monday that could delay the labels for months.
House members writing a farm spending bill voted to postpone country-of-origin labeling for meat, which is supposed to go into effect in September 2006. Congress initially ordered the labeling into effect in 2004, but the lawmakers, bowing to pressure from meatpackers and food processors, voted to delay it until 2006.
"This just buys a little more time," said Rep. Henry Bonilla (news, bio, voting record), R-Texas, chairman of the agriculture subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.
"It would be a nightmare to implement for producers across the country," Bonilla said. "It would also expose retailers to a tremendous amount of liability."
The White House wants to repeal labeling for meat, and the House Agriculture Committee chairman, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., introduced a bill earlier this month that would repeal the mandatory labeling system and replace it with a voluntary one.
The subcommittee voted Monday to prevent the Agriculture Department from spending money this year to put labeling rules in place, a tactic that would postpone the labeling for months. The full committee must approve the bill before sending it to the House floor.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said 35 other countries, including Canada, Mexico and European countries, already require labels for meat.
"Country-of-origin labeling would give people the information they need to make an informed choice to protect the safety of their families," said DeLauro, the subcommittee's senior Democrat.
The action doesn't apply to fresh and frozen fish, which began carrying labels in April.
On the Net:
House Appropriations Committee: http://appropriations.house.gov/
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The FDA has approved a mix of six bacteria-killing viruses designed to be sprayed on ready-to-eat meat and poultry products. The viruses, called bacteriophages, kill the Listeria monocytogenes bacterium. This is the first-ever approval of viruses as a food additive.
Listeria monocytogenes can cause a serious infection called listeriosis. About 2,500 people in the United States become seriously ill with listeriosis each year, and 500 die.
Lunch meats are particularly vulnerable to Listeria because they are generally not cooked or reheated after purchase.
Consumers will not be informed as to whether their meat and poultry products have been treated with the spray. Intralytix, the company that produces the virus spray, also plans to seek FDA approval for another bacteriophage product, this one designed to kill E. coli bacteria.
Consumers will not be informed as to whether their meat and poultry products have been treated with the spray?!