CFA News Update - September 14, 2010


Advocates Push for Action on Food Safety Bill

With Congress returning from its August recess last week, food safety advocates and foodborne illness survivors renewed their efforts to win an immediate vote on food safety legislation (S. 510) that has been languishing in the Senate for more than a year.  CFA, Center for Science in the Public Interest, and U.S. Public Interest Research Group released a report indicating that the recent recall of Salmonella-contaminated eggs is simply the latest and largest of 85 recalls that have occurred since the House passed legislation in July of 2009 that would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) much needed authority to address food safety hazards.

“Most Americans probably assume that FDA regularly inspects farms and food processing plants and that when problems arise, FDA can quickly order tainted eggs or spinach off the market,” said Chris Waldrop, Director of the Food Policy Institute at CFA. “In fact, neither of those assumptions is true. The Senate food safety bill would give the FDA the authority it needs to do its job.”  A copy of the news release is available here.

News emerged over the August recess that the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee had reached a bipartisan agreement on a manager’s amendment, clearing the way for the bill to be brought to the Senate floor.  While CFA praised the committee for reaching bipartisan agreement, it decried the fact that the price for that agreement was fewer FDA inspections of food processing plants.  CFA has strongly advocated increasing the frequency of FDA inspections.  Instead, the manager’s amendment adjusts the frequency to once every five years for high-risk plants and once every seven years for other facilities.  This is a change in the bill as reported out of the HELP Committee last November.

“Inspectors are cops on the beat—checking to be sure that corporate process controls are operating as intended. Even the most sophisticated and well intentioned company can make a mistake and history shows some plants are careless and not concerned with protecting their customers,” said Carol Tucker-Foreman, Distinguished Fellow of CFA’s Food Policy Institute.  Despite the change, CFA supports passage of the bill as soon as possible.  The complete CFA statement on the manager’s amendment is available here.

 

CFA Study Finds 60 MPG is Both Feasible and Beneficial

A new economic analysis released by CFA finds that setting a fleet-wide car and light truck fuel economy standard of 60 miles per gallon by 2025 would offer consumer savings on fuel costs that exceed the added vehicle costs.  “Previous fuel economy standards have left huge consumer savings on the table,” said CFA Research Director and report author Mark Cooper.  “A 60 mile per gallon standard in 2025 will capture those enormous benefits and provide important protections for American consumers.”  A press release on the report is available here.  The report itself is available here.

 

EPA Seeks Comment on Mileage Labels

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed new automotive fuel economy labels for comment last week.  CFA Public Affairs Director Jack Gillis said that the labels have the potential to improve fuel economy in the same way that crash test results improved vehicle safety.  “While auto dealers and manufacturers may object to providing consumers with the useful and potentially behavior-changing information in the proposed new EPA fuel economy labels, they represent a giant step forward in our efforts to improve vehicle fuel efficiency and reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Gillis said.  A copy of Gillis’s press statement is available here.

 

Alert Warns of Risks of Add-on Insurance

Meanwhile, CFA issued an alert this summer warning consumers to be cautious about buying insurance from product sellers – such as those selling cars, homes, furniture, electronics, and travel – who also try to sell them a related insurance product.  “In our experience, insurance offered to you in conjunction with the sale of other products is often not needed or, if needed, can be purchased much less expensively from other sources,” said CFA Insurance Director J. Robert Hunter.  A copy of the consumer alert is available here.