I’m still dealing with a bit of jet lag from my trip to China. I woke up too early this morning (about 1 AM), and just woke up from a nap in my office chair to yet another move by the Obama administration that shows that "real change" in Washington is hard to come by – unless it is another cash request by a political candidate.
First, let me make clear that I dumped a lot of "change" into the Democratic change wagon – I have given or raised millions of dollars for Democratic candidates over the last several years. My goal was to put people in office that did good public policy. Well, I guess I needed to wake up literally and figuratively.
So, the food safety reality? "Real change" Legislation is bogged down in the Senate, and despite overwhelming public and industry support, the bill will likely not come out of committee until next year – "change is on the way?"
Now, the FDA runs and hides from the Oyster industry. Here is what AP just posted on the wire:
Facing fierce resistance, the Obama administration on Friday backed off a plan to ban sales of raw oysters from the Gulf of Mexico during warm-weather months.
The abrupt turnaround came as oyster-lovers and industry officials — as well as Democrats and Republicans across the Gulf — blasted the plan as unnecessary government meddling. Industry officials said it could have killed a $500 million economy and thousands of jobs.
"They might have been tone-deaf in the beginning, but they got the tune pretty quickly and listened to what we had to say," said Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who said FDA Commissioner Peggy Hamburg notified her of the decision Friday afternoon. "I’m really thankful that they listened."
About 15 people die each year in the United States from raw oysters infected with Vibrio vulnificus, which typically is found in warm coastal waters between April and October. Most of the deaths occur in people with weak immune systems caused by health problems like liver or kidney disease, cancer, diabetes, or AIDS.
While the total number of deaths is small compared with the annual estimates of 5,000 U.S. deaths from food-borne illnesses, FDA officials say it is a relatively high frequency that could be easily eliminated by processing oysters through treatments such as pasteurization.
Industry officials argue that anti-bacterial processing is too costly. They also say the treatments ruin the fresh taste and texture of raw oysters, which are considered a delicacy by many, particularly in the Gulf, which supplies about two-thirds of the U.S. oyster harvest.
The oyster industry has been working with regulators for years to improve its safety performance by increasing refrigeration and trying to raise awareness of the hazards to people with weak immune systems.
But the FDA says the results haven’t changed much.
The FDA proposal — which was announced last month and had been slated to go into effect in 2011 — would have prohibited sales of raw oysters from the Gulf for much of the year unless the shellfish were treated.
Perhaps the FDA should never have passed the ban to begin with, but FDA, get some b%$*%s for goodness sake. "Change you can believe in" my a%$! Democratic candidates – do not bother calling, this "change" machine is out of order.