McDonald’s has just discovered bigger isn’t always better. McDonald’s – one of the nation’s largest egg purchasers - has just dropped Sparboe Farms, one of the biggest egg producers in the U.S. after undercover filming showed abuse of chicks and hens at facilities in Iowa, Minnesota and Colorado. McDonald’s is finding out that there is a price to be paid for dealing with industrial egg producers like Sparboe. By their very design these industrial systems fail to meet the needs of the hens, fail to protect the consumer from health problems such as Salmonella and fail to provide farm workers with a safe and positive working environment. However, McDonald's Europe boasts a much more sustainable supply chain - in fact, over 95% of all eggs used by McDonald’s across 21 European countries are either free range or cage free “barn” eggs. Why then can McDonald’s in the U.S. not learn from its European operation?
“It’s disheartening — even tragic — that a program that costs so little yet does so much to keep our food supply safe is not being funded,” said Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, director of the A.V.M.A.’s Government Relations Division. “We’re talking about a cost of less than a penny per American to help keep meat, eggs and dairy products free of drugs and pesticides.”
It’s Really Come to This: Critical Food Supply Safety Program Closing Due to Lack of Funds
It’s a sad, sad day for food safety in America. Despite our best efforts to convince Congress, USDA and FDA to come up with long-term funding for FARAD, the critical food safety resource is permanently shutting down. The result: information essential to protecting America’s food supply is being left in the lurch.
FARAD – The Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank – began shutting down yesterday. For 26 years, FARAD has been used by veterinarians, livestock producers, and state and federal regulatory and extension specialists to ensure that drug, environmental and pesticide contaminants do not end up in meat, milk, and eggs. This shouldn’t come as news to our regular readers. We’ve been telling you about the importance of FARAD for months.
The program needed an immediate cash infusion to stay open, and, ultimately, long-term funding of $2.5 million per year to continue its critical work. Really, that’s all it needed… less than a penny per American to help make sure that drugs and pesticides don’t end up in our food. A penny per American, folks. That’s it.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has been leading efforts to secure funding for FARAD, which is administered by the USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service and operates out of North Carolina State University, the University of Florida and the University of California-Davis. The AVMA worked with Congress to have language authorizing FARAD at $2.5 million inserted in this year’s Farm Bill. Unfortunately, the USDA never incorporated the funding in its budget, and Congress has provided neither emergency funding, nor passed the agriculture appropriations bill that could have funded the program. Oh and, FDA hasn’t coughed up any pennies either.
It’s tragic that a program that costs so little yet does so much to keep our food supply safe is not being funded. Again, we’re talking about pennies, folks.
The last-ditch hope of keeping FARAD from completely closing is for the USDA or stakeholders to fund the program. The AVMA is planning an emergency stakeholder meeting to discuss the future of FARAD.
In the interim, we urge all Americans to call the USDA at 1-202-720-1542 and tell them to immediately provide $2.5 million in emergency funding for FARAD.