Santa Cruz County intends to adopt the Food and Drug Administration’s 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, President Obama signed into law the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) 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. According to the nonprofit Center for Food Safety, which cited data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 779 illnesses reported in 2011. In 2018 there were 1,381. 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 Santa Cruz County (and I’ve heard the State of Arizona) 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 six states had complied as of 2018. Maybe there is a reason for that. Arizona still operates under the 1999 code. It seems to be working. Santa Cruz County has strict health codes that are regularly enforced and reported to the public on its website. 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.

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.

Stephen McEwen

Rio Rico

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