Issue Date: February 26, 2007
Food Safety Agency Bill Introduced
On Feb. 14, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.) reintroduced the Safe Food Act, which would establish a single food safety agency to supplant the food safety functions of FDA, USDA, and 13 other agencies operating under 30 food laws. The Food Safety Administration to be created under the bill would have several major responsibilities: regular, but random, risk-based inspection of all food processing plants; increased oversight of imported foods; and establishment of a system for tracing all foods from the farm to the consumer. "From the Escherichia coli outbreak that pulled spinach off store shelves to the Taco Bell outbreak that sickened 71 individuals in five states, it is clear that our food safety structure is collapsing and endangering public health," DeLauro said. Although DeLauro has worked for a decade to set up a single food safety agency, the bill may have a greater chance of passage this year. Lawmakers now are more concerned about food safety as a result of the number of recent serious food contamination incidents. In addition, in a Feb. 8 report, the Government Accountability Office said lack of comprehensive federal oversight of food safety poses a "high risk" to the economy and to public health and safety.
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