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CSPI Praises Senators for Bipartisan Food Safety Bill

Statement of CSPI Food Safety Director Caroline Smith DeWaal

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The bipartisan FDA Food Safety Modernization Act would help refocus the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on preventing, rather than just reacting to, food-borne disease outbreaks. Senators Richard Durbin, Judd Gregg, Christopher Dodd, Richard Burr, Tom Harkin, and Lamar Alexander have developed constructive legislation in a bipartisan manner, proving that the safety of the food we serve our families is not a partisan political issue.

The bill would require domestic and foreign food companies to assess potential hazards, develop food safety plans, and take steps to prevent contaminated foods from being marketed. It also would require FDA to issue regulations for ensuring safer fresh produce. Those are positive reforms that CSPI identified in its "White Paper on Building a Modern Food Safety System for FDA Regulated Foods" as being essential to reforming the nation’s food safety system.

The bill could be strengthened by modernizing FDA’s outdated 1938 enforcement tools with stronger civil penalties, better traceability and oversight, and broader recall authority. The bill also needs to provide for new resources to implement these programs and hire more inspectors at the FDA. Hopefully, these issues will be addressed in legislation currently being drafted in the House of Representatives.

Passage of comprehensive legislation to modernize FDA’s food safety authorities this year would be an important step to modernizing our nation’s food safety system. It is only the first step however. In the next Administration, Congress should enact legislation that will bring our entire food regulatory system into the 21st century by creating a unified food agency with a single leader and a firm budgetary foundation. The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act is an important step towards this goal. 

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Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at]cspinet.org) or Ariana Stone (astone[at]cspinet.org).