PROTECTING POULTRY CONSUMERS: This week at a press conference in the U.S. Capitol, Congressman Chip Pickering and Congressman Dennis Cardoza (D-California) called on the United States Department of Agriculture to reform their labeling regulations on "all natural" chicken. About thirty percent of all fresh chicken sold to consumers has been "pumped up" through injection or vacuum tumbling with up to 15% water, sodium, binding agents like carrageenan (seaweed extract), and other additives. Under current standards, this chicken can still be labeled 100% natural.
"Consumers are being cheated in their wallets and their health. They are buying chicken by weight that has been injected with 15% sodium water. And they are buying chicken as a health conscious decision, but getting 800% more sodium per serving than truly natural chicken," Pickering said. Pickering also noted that poultry producers who truly are all natural face a marketing disadvantage by allowing their competitors to inject additives into chicken but still label them "all natural."
Pickering and Cardoza sent a letter to the USDA specifically asking for a prohibition on the "natural" label on "pumped-up" fresh chicken and to request that "solution statements" which reveal what is injected into the chicken be more prominent and list the ingredients. (For more details: http://www.house.gov/pickering/releases/may07/chicken.htm)
EXPANDING THE STRATEGIC PETROLEUM RESERVE: Monday, Congressman Chip Pickering cosponsored new legislation (HR2396) to authorize the expansion of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) by half-a-billion barrels. Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran introduced companion legislation (S1435) in the Senate where Senator Trent Lott is a cosponsor. "The expansion of the strategic petroleum reserve increases our nation's energy security, protects our economy from foreign disruptions, and allows us to meet our international responsibilities," Pickering said.
In 2005, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act authorizing the expansion of the SPR from 727 million to 1 billion barrel capacity. This new legislation supports President George W. Bush's January 2007 State of the Union address request to increase that level to 1.5 billion barrel capacity. The current capacity of 727 million barrels represents 56 days of net imports. The United States' International Energy Agency (IEA) treaty requires it to maintain the equivalent of 90 days of net petroleum imports. Pickering noted the new facilities to be constructed in Richton will play a critical role in protecting this higher capacity.
The expansion of the strategic petroleum reserve is part of the United States national security and energy security policy and is not expected to affect commercial gasoline or energy consumption prices. (For more details: http://www.house.gov/pickering/releases/may07/spr.htm)
FIRST RESPONDER COMMUNICATION: Last week, Congressman Chip Pickering and Congresswoman Jane Harman of California sent a letter to the FCC urging the agency to adopt specific rules for the 700 MHz band for a nationwide network for first responder interoperability.
The letter said in part, "In recent years, our nation has made little progress improving the communications systems used by first responders and other public safety officials. Four years after 9/11 and after billions of dollars spent on communications equipment, Hurricane Katrina revealed that firefighters, police officers, and EMS personnel experienced the same communications failures that result in slow response, recovery and loss of life. Our nation has little to show for the more than $2 billion spent on emergency communications since 9/11, and though it will help, the additional $1 billion to be distributed this year is unlikely to result in real, nationwide improvements necessary to avert another catastrophe."
"For these reasons, we write in support...to create a single, national system to help public safety agencies achieve seamless operability and interoperability. Commercial interest in the 700 MHz band spectrum can produce a viable, survivable solution for public safety." (For more details: http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/ca36_harman/May_17.shtml)
PAIN MANAGEMENT AT MONTGOMERY VA CENTER: Earlier this month, Congressman Chip Pickering supported the efforts of the Central VA Health Care Network's Pain Management Initiative, VISN 16, by participating in the 3rd Annual Pain Management Initiative Symposium. Pain management providers not only in Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas, but across the country had an opportunity to discuss and explore political issues related to pain management in this country. Presented by the G. V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center, the program was designed to provide an educational opportunity in the area of pain management by addressing cutting edge trends, and current treatment and modalities in pain management. The program enhanced clinicians diagnostic and management skills in the treatment of acute and chronic pain.