CONTACT: Penelope Miller, (202) 332-9110 x358,
Caroline Smith DeWaal, (202) 332-9110 x366
H.R. 3200, authored by Rep. Scott Klug (R-WI) "is a Congressional blueprint for undoing decades of pro-consumer legislation that ensure the safety and honest labeling of the food we eat," charged Michael Jacobson, Ph.D., executive director of the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).
"This proposal is a symptom of 'Mad Congress Disease,'" added Jacobson. "It reads like a Hannukah wish list for the food and chemical industries." Jacobson spoke today at a Washington, D.C. press conference called to voice opposition to H.R. 3200. The House Subcommittee on Health and Environment begins two days of hearings on the bill tomorrow.
CSPI was joined at the press conference by Rabbi Menachem Genack, rabbinic administrator for the Orthodox Union in New York City, and by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.).
"This piece of legislation would have potentially adverse effects on the Kosher laws in 22 states," said Rabbi Genack. "All these laws would be in jeopardy . . . We would see significant abuse in terms of selling products (labeled as kosher) that are not in fact Kosher."
"Quite frankly," commented Rep. Lowey, "this bill is not Kosher. New York's Kosher food consumers expect the highest quality Kosher food. This bill will prevent those consumers from having that high level of confidence."
If passed, Klug's proposed legislation would:
"Congress should be fighting to increase public confidence in the nation's food supply. This bill does just the opposite," said Rep. Lowey. "It weakens federal food safety laws, but it does not stop there. This bill reaches down to the states and tells them that they cannot do more to protect the health and well-being of their own citizens."
Also at the press conference was Vicki Peal, a Ft. Lauderdale teacher who led the campaign for raw-shellfish warning labels in Florida following her father's death from eating tainted oysters. She said she had traveled to Washington simply to ask "how Congress can rob Florida consumers of the warning label that could have saved my father's life?"
CSPI led the effort to win passage of the 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act that has stopped the proliferation of deceptive health and nutrition claims.
A Senate bill (S.1477), which is somewhat weaker than HR 3200, was recently approved by the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources. The Senate will likely vote on S.1477 in late May.