A pair of bills introduced last week by Rep. Thomas Massie (R–Ky.) could loosen the FDA's stranglehold on the interstate shipment and sale of raw milk. Rep. Massie, a farmer who raises and markets grass-fed beef, was joined in sponsoring the bills by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D–Maine) and a total of eighteen other House members from both sides of the aisle.
Keep Food Legal executive director Baylen Linnekin told Politico that the bills are evidence of a welcome shift by advocates for raw milk and other food choices toward the more rights-based arguments favored by Keep Food Legal (e.g., you have a right to eat what you want) and away from more qualified, scientific- and nutrition-based arguments (e.g., you have a right to eat what you want because it's healthy).
"'It’s nice to see that people are now advocating for their right rather than science,' said Baylen Linnekin, executive director of Keep Food Legal, a group that describes itself as 'the first nationwide membership organization devoted to food freedom—the right of every American to grow, raise, produce, buy, sell, share, cook, eat, and drink the foods of their own choosing.'"
According to a press release issued by Rep. Massie's office, the bills—-the “Milk Freedom of Act” and the “Interstate Milk Freedom Act”—-are intended "to improve consumer food choices and to protect local farmers from federal interference."
The bills would prohibit the federal government from interfering with the interstate traffic of raw milk or its sale between farmers and consumers in "states where distribution or sale of such products is already legal."
Keep Food Legal's Baylen Linnekin to Moderate Panel at Harvard Law School Meat Conference Next Month
Keep Food Legal executive director Baylen Linnekin will moderate a panel next month at an exciting one-day Harvard Law School symposium.
The Meat We Eat, a forum co-sponsored by the Harvard Food Law Society and Harvard Law School’s Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, seeks to "explore the legal and policy aspects of industrial animal farming and related effects on public health, the environment, and animal welfare."
The panel Linnekin will moderate, "Reducing Legal Barriers, Empowering Consumers, and Creating Pathways for Sustainably and Humanely Raised Meat," focuses on ways to lower the regulatory burden on small farmers and ranchers who raise animals for slaughter.
In a recent Reason column, Linnekin looked at how USDA regulations and mis-management of the process for slaughtering the animals we eat harms farmers, ranchers, and consumers alike and helps stifle consumer demand for niche (or artisanal) meat.
"USDA regulations effectively force consumers who want to support small-scale, local farmers to buy meat that's been processed in the same large slaughterhouses that larger competitors use," he writes. "Consequently, consumers who don't want to support large-scale agriculture have few, if any, ways to opt out of that USDA-supported system."
Keep Food Legal recently filed comments opposing the FDA's overreaching plan to vanquish most trans fats from the American diet. We argued that four reasons in particular make a trans fats ban inappropriate.
First, scientific research does not justify a trans fats ban. Banning a food ingredient that the FDA and CDC acknowledge is unavoidable in 95% of all human diets is a patently dangerous and unprecedented idea.
Second, American consumers have already cut their trans fat consumption (and producers their trans fat production) to within limits suggested by the American Heart Association. The AHA suggests Americans should consume “less than 2 grams of trans fats a day.” Thanks to the fact many food producers have responded to consumer demand and removed trans fats from their foods in recent years, the FDA has noted that “trans fat intake among American consumers has declined from 4.6 grams per day in 2003 to about 1 gram per day in 2012.” That's already well below the maximum suggested by the AHA.
Third, there is no data showing any connection between trans fat bans and lives saved. New York City banned trans fats years ago, but research by Keep Food Legal demonstrates that the city's rate of heart disease has actually fallen less than have rates in the rest of the country (where trans fats are not banned).
Finally, the proposed rules would strike at the very heart of food freedom. Many types of doughnuts, frozen pizzas, coffee creamers, ready-made doughs, canned frostings, cookies, crackers, pie crusts, and margarines would likely disappear if the FDA adopts its proposed rules. These proposed rules would make other foods taste worse and may lead to an increase in the amount of saturated fats found in many foods—since some substance will have to replace trans fats in the foods that presently contain them. That substance—whatever specific form it takes—will no doubt be a different type of saturated fats.