CPR Archive for Michael Patoka

Benefits of food safety rules much greater than even the FDA suggests

by Michael Patoka | November 14, 2013

CPR Member Scholars Rena Steinzor Lisa Heinzerling, Tom McGarity, Sidney Shapiro, and I submitted comments to the FDA on two food safety rules—one on raw produce, and one on preventive controls for human food (which applies to food manufacturers and processors).

In separate blogs posted today, we address issues of regulatory design and how the costs of both these rules would be significantly smaller than suggested in the FDA’s economic analyses. Here, we explain why these rules offer much greater benefits than those presented in the agency’s analyses. (The analyses for both rules essentially rely on the same benefits methodology.) 

The FDA estimates that the produce rule would prevent about 1.75 million foodborne illnesses, representing an annual benefit to society of $1.04 billion. For the preventive controls rule, the FDA calculates the annual burden of illnesses attributed to processed foods—nearly one million illnesses, which cost society about $2 billion—without estimating how effective the rule would be in reducing them (presumably because it is difficult to predict how each facility would design and implement its own unique food safety plan).

As we explain in our comments, the ...

White House changes to food import rule weaken consumer protections

by Michael Patoka | October 25, 2013
Last Friday, the FDA posted the revisions the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) made to two food safety rules drafted by the agency two years ago. The proposed rules were issued under the Food Safety and Modernization Act, which Congress passed in the wake of widespread food safety disasters. As we’ve mentioned in this space before, OIRA is the regulatory review body within the White House that frequently holds onto agency rules for longer than the 120-day ...

Analysts Mislead in Their Push to Weaken FDA’s Produce Rule

by Michael Patoka | August 27, 2013
In January of this year, the Food & Drug Administration proposed a rule on produce safety, as required by the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The rule would establish comprehensive standards designed to prevent foodborne illnesses linked to fruits, vegetables, and nuts—like the ongoing Cyclospora outbreak that has sickened 630 people so far, or the 159 cases of Hepatitis A caused by imported pomegranate seeds. Sofie Miller and Cassidy West, two analysts from the George Washington University Regulatory Studies ...

Ash Time Goes By: Administration Continues Foot-Dragging on Coal Ash Rule as Toxic Landfills and Ash Ponds Grow by 94 Million Tons Each Year

by Michael Patoka | July 24, 2013
Further along the Ohio River, there’s a pond literally across the street from a residential neighborhood (see below). It drains millions of gallons of contaminated water into the river under its state permit, to prevent overflow. Not only is the groundwater polluted with dangerous levels of arsenic, cadmium, lead, and selenium, but the landfill scatters “black soot everywhere” in the words of one resident, who said, “I‘ve lived there for 35 years and all I do is watch people die.” ...

Three Food Safety Rules Grow Moldy at OIRA, as Import-Related Outbreaks Continue

by Michael Patoka | June 21, 2013
About 15 percent of all foods we consume are imported. Looking at some particular categories, the numbers are far more striking: imports make up 91 percent of our seafood, 60 percent of our fruits and vegetables, and 61 percent of our honey. Most of these imports come from developing countries that lack any effective health and safety regulation—like China, which has had a seemingly endless run of food safety scandals and yet supplies 50 percent of our apple juice, 80 ...

USDA's Poultry Rule Will Exacerbate Water Pollution, in Addition to Its Negative Impacts on Food and Worker Safety

by Michael Patoka | April 09, 2013
The Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) proposal to “modernize” the poultry inspection system by replacing government inspectors with company employees, and speeding up the processing line to a staggering 175 birds per minute, has been exposed on numerous occasions as a disaster-waiting-to-happen for food and worker safety. In its zeal to save money for poultry corporations, the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) failed to conduct its much-vaunted “interagency review” before giving the proposed rule its stamp of ...

Taking ACUS to Task for Industry Bias in 'International Regulatory Cooperation' Project

by Michael Patoka | March 22, 2013
In late 2011, a little known but surprisingly influential independent federal agency called the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) conducted a research project on “International Regulatory Cooperation” (IRC), culminating in a set of recommendations to U.S. agencies. In a letter sent yesterday (March 21), CPR Member Scholars Rena Steinzor and Thomas McGarity, and I urge ACUS Chairman Paul Verkuil to look back over the project’s many flaws, which reflect—in both process and substance—ACUS’s pervasive bias toward the views of ...

New Report Reveals Human Toll of Relentless Line Speeds in Poultry Plants, as USDA Prepares to Crank Them Up Even Further

by Michael Patoka | March 08, 2013
A report released yesterday by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice offers a devastating glimpse into the world of Alabama poultry workers.  Forced to hang, fold, gut, or slice more than 100 carcasses each minute, these workers suffer injuries at astounding rates:  of the 302 workers interviewed, almost three-quarters have experienced a significant work-related injury or illness, from deep cuts and debilitating hand pain to chemical burns and respiratory problems.  More ...

ACUS Must Ensure Neutrality and Cease Close Alliances with Industry Groups, Member Scholars Say in Letter

by Michael Patoka | October 18, 2012
CPR President Rena Steinzor and Member Scholar Thomas McGarity sent a letter this morning to Paul Verkuil, Chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS), taking the independent federal agency to task for its increasingly apparent bias toward the views of industry groups and its troubling alliance with current and former officials at the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).  By repeatedly partnering with groups engaged in destructive battles with the agencies that write protective ...

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