House to Consider Comprehensive FDA Reform Bill
Statement of CSPI Food Safety Director Caroline Smith DeWaal
April 17, 2008
After numerous foodborne illness outbreaks and scores of hearings on Capitol Hill, House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell, together with Representatives Frank Pallone, Bart Stupak, and Diane DeGette, has introduced today a package of urgently-needed FDA reforms that, if enacted, will go a long way toward restoring Americans' confidence in the safety of our food supply.
Until the massive spinach outbreak of 2006, most Americans probably assumed our food safety system was strong. But with recalls and outbreaks occurring every month, consumer confidence has dramatically eroded.
Dingell's FDA reform package requires written food safety plans at FDA-regulated food processors. The bill requires safety standards to help keep fresh fruits and vegetables free of harmful contaminants, like E. coli 0157:H7 and Salmonella. Imported foods get increased scrutiny and country-of-origin disclosure is required on processed foods and produce. The package also gives FDA mandatory recall authority and civil penalties. The Dingell bill contains common sense reforms comprising modern tools that most Americans would be surprised to learn that the agency doesn't have today.
As written, the bill only requires that FDA-regulated facilities get a visit from an inspector once every four years. While that's certainly an improvement over the status quo, the FDA needs the resources to visit these farms and factories at least once every year. The FDA has been on a starvation diet for far too long.