The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Phone: 202-332-9110

Bipartisan Food Safety Bill Poised for Floor Vote

Food Safety Reform Legislation Clears HELP Committee


Americans may soon be able to enjoy their peanuts, peppers, spinach
and cookie dough with greater confidence that those foods are safe to
eat if the full Senate passes the food safety legislation that cleared
a key committee today. The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510),
offered by Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Tom Harkin (D-IA), was
passed unanimously in the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP)

Food safety advocates are calling on the full body to pass
the bill before the end of the year. Similar legislation passed the
House in July.

"Americans expect the businesses that grow, fish, process and
handle our food are following the best practices to ensure it is safe,"
said CSPI food safety
director Caroline Smith DeWaal. "This bill gives FDA needed new
authorities to manage food safety from farm to table, through improved
standards and more frequent inspections."

The bill calls on food processors to register with the
government periodically, implement food safety plans, meet FDA
performance standards, and verify that the food they import complies
with U.S. law. The House-passed bill
also requires more frequent risk-based inspections of food processing
facilities and microbial testing for dangerous pathogens like
Salmonella or E. coli O157:H7. Under the current system, food
manufacturing facilities might only receive visits from an FDA
inspector once every five or 10 years. Both bills also give the FDA
authority to issue mandatory recalls of contaminated foods.

"Senator Durbin and Senator Harkin have been championing food
safety for years, and they deserve enormous credit for crafting a bill
with such broad bipartisan support," said DeWaal. "We're also grateful
for the cosponsorship of Ranking Member Mike Enzi and Senators Judd
Gregg and Richard Burr and the rest of the Republicans who joined the
Democrats in advancing this legislation."

The bill is widely supported by a diverse coalition of
consumer and health groups, including the American Public Health
Association, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Safe
Tables Our Priority, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and Trust for America's
Health. The Make Our Food Safe coalition
will continue to seek some strengthening amendments to the legislation,
but urge rapid passage in order to restore consumer confidence, which
has been shaken by numerous outbreaks of food-borne illness.

Since 1971, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has been a strong advocate for nutrition and health, food safety, alcohol policy, and sound science.