July 8, 1996

Contact: Caroline Smith DeWaal, 202/332-9110, ext. 366, or

Richard Hébert, ext. 370

Consumers Oppose Crippling FDA

Food & Drug Safety Evaluations, Poll Shows

By an overwhelming majority, consumers oppose Congressional efforts to take the evaluation of drugs and food additives away from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and turn it over to non-government organizations, according to a new national opinion poll.

The survey, conducted for the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), also indicates that if non-government agencies were allowed to do the evaluating, nine out of ten Americans would want food labels to identify who conducted the evaluation.

Both houses of Congress are considering legislation that would privatize many of the safety evaluations of drugs and food additives now conducted by the FDA. The bills -- S. 1477 and HR 3200 -- were written in response to complaints by food and drug companies about the slow pace of FDA product approvals.

"The massive public opposition to measures proposed in these industry bills should put them in the trash heap of history where they belong," said Michael Jacobson, executive director of CSPI. "Clearly there is no public support for these atrocious measures that would gut the most basic protections that consumers have relied on for years."

The Senate is ready for floor consideration of S. 1477, "The Food and Drug Administration Performance and Accountability Act of 1996." The House Commerce Committee plans to consider HR 3200, "The Food Amendments and Animal Drug Availability Act of 1996," in the very near future.

The nationally representative telephone survey of 1,000 adults was conducted June 7-23 by OmniTel, a national service of Bruskin/Goldring Research, an independent polling firm. The key findings of the survey include:

"Real reform of food safety requires more than turning the FDA's jobs over to private parties," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, CSPI's director of food safety. "These industry-dominated groups will never provide independent safety assessments that consumers can rely on."

CSPI sent letters today to the chief sponsors of the bills, Rep. Michael Bilirakis (R-FL) and Sen. Nancy Kassebaum (R-KS), urging them to withdraw the measures. "Food safety is too important to jeopardize with a bad bill rushed through at the end of the 104th Congress," the letter stated.

CSPI is a Washington-based nonprofit health-advocacy organization that led the effort to win passage of the 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act. CSPI is also well-known for its nutrition studies of movie-theater popcorn, Chinese restaurants, and other foods eaten outside the home. Supported largely by the 750,000 subscribers to its Nutrition Action Healthletter, CSPI accepts no funding from industry or government.

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