Archive for May 11th, 2010
“There is no more important mission at USDA than ensuring the safety of our food, and we are working every day as part of the President’s Food Safety Working Group to lower the danger of foodborne illness. The new standards announced today mark an important step in our efforts to protect consumers by further reducing the incidence of Salmonella and opening a new front in the fight against Campylobacter,” announced Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on Monday.
Under these new proposed regulations, 7.5% of the chicken at a processing plant may test positive for salmonella. In 2009, average salmonella levels were at 7.1%, so I guess these giant food conglomerates won’t have to stretch too hard to meet the proposed rule. I suppose it’s better than the 20% salmonella contamination that’s allowed under current regulations. But perhaps current regulations are not the best standard with which to judge the new rules, given that they don’t regulate campylobacter at all. Campylobacter causes diarrhea, cramping, fever, and there are no federal standards governing how much of it can be in your food. Under the proposed regulations, companies may not have more than 10% of their carcasses “highly-contaminated” by campylobacter, and no more than 46% may be contaminated at a “low-level.” I feel better, don’t you?
Now it’s time to reconcile the House and Senate bills, then let the sun shine in. It’s time to shine an especially bright light on the recipients of the the Fed’s largess, and this will information must be produced pursuant to the Senate bill. Let’s just hope that the audit is meaningful and thorough.
Speaking of which, it’s time to turn a sharp eye to the roll the Wall Street bond rating companies played in the meltdown. After all, how could it be that so many sub-prime mortgage-backed securities were so highly rated, despite strong evidence to the contrary? We’re now seeing good momentum to reform the practices of these bond raters too:
A critical amendment to the Wall Street reform bill being debated in the Senate this week picked up a key Republican backer Tuesday. The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), would end the practice of banks choosing which credit rating agency they hire to rate a particular offering. Often, banks will ask raters for a preliminary review, allowing them to pick the rater most likely to look favorably on whatever bundle of products the bank wants to sell to investors.