SCC Must Put the Brakes on Adopting FDA 2017 Health Code

FDA headquarters [Photo by Federal Drug Administration]

SCC intends to adopt the FDA 2017 Health Food Code, with implementation slated for January 2020. And it appears our great state of Arizona is considering the same. As a citizen concerned about the health and welfare of myself, my family, and my fellow Arizonans, I offer the following:

In January 2011, Obama signed into law FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) to protect Americans from foodborne bacteria that kill several thousand people a year and make millions of others sick. The law provides for sweeping new rules that might have made a difference in preventing illness if it had been properly funded and implemented. That didn’t happen. In 2011 there were 779 illnesses reported. In 2018 there were 1381. It’s not working.

What did happen is the advent of new costs and fees to businesses, new federal tax-funded bureaucrats, new rules, new regulations, and new overseers. And now SCC (and I’ve heard the State of AZ) intends to adopt this law that is underfunded, ineffective AND has proven prohibitively costly: possibly even forcing local wineries, breweries, distilleries, and restaurants out of business.

The FDA has declared its mission to get every state and territory to adopt its 2017 Food Code. Only 6 states have complied. Maybe there is a reason for that. Arizona still operates under the 1999 Code (see . It seems to be working. Santa Cruz County has strict health codes that are regularly enforced and reported to the public on its website. John Bovay, University of Connecticut, is one of a team of researchers looking into the effectiveness of FSMA. He has said if it is at all effective, it is due to similar rules already being in place. He has little confidence FSMA will drastically diminish the number of illnesses. This is just one more in an incessant series of ploys by a Federal Government intent on wresting control out of the hands of we the people.

Which brings us to The Big Event – the 2018 e coli outbreak attributed to romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, AZ. The County apparently sites this as the reason to adopt the 2017 Food Code. Why? Because the FDA recommends adoption of FSMA in its Environmental Assessment of the incident (see . But the very same report states there was no known cause of contamination of canal water leading to the outbreak. There was only one finding of bacteria in samples collected from local farms and that was non-pathogenic. Remember, the FDA has a declared vested interest in recommending adoption of the 2017 Food Code. It wants control.

The County intends to adopt the 2017 Food Code to prevent outbreaks such as the Yuma e coli incident. But the Code provides ABSOLUTLEY NOTHING to combat such an incident. There is no causal relationship between the Code and preventing any such outbreak. It is useless.

What happens if the 2017 Food Code is adopted? Let’s find out beforehand. Let’s ask local businesses what the impact will be. Or better yet, how about we manage oversight of our local farms, wineries, food trucks, restaurants and like businesses locally? How about we, as a community, determine what is best for us? How about keeping the hands of the Federal Government out of our pockets and out of our business? Let’s put the brakes on this effort to adopt useless Federal regulations and address local concerns with local people finding local answers.

Steven McEwen
Convention of States Legislative Liaison
Rio Rico, AZ

About Steven R. McEwen 1 Article
Steven McEwen lives in Rio Rico, and is the Convention of States Legislative Liaison.