WASHINGTON — Industry associations praised parallel bills in the House and Senate last week that seek to expand the powers of the Food and Drug Administration to monitor food safety.
The two bills — dubbed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act in the Senate and the Safe FEAST Act (Safe Food Enforcement, Assessment, Standards and Targeting Act of 2009) in the House — stand a better chance of getting through Congress than last year’s versions, Tom O’Brien, the Washington representative for the Produce Marketing Association, told SN, citing the number of high-ranking sponsors of the bills from both parties.
“I think the bills, if they get enacted, will restore consumer confidence in FDA, which in turn restores confidence in the food supply,” he told SN. “They modernize FDA’s authorities, and they tell it that they should regulate based on the risk of any particular commodity. Those are very important things that we look for in legislation.”
The legislation seeks to give the FDA the power to mandate food recalls, expands its access to records in a food emergency, and increases inspections. It also requires importers to verify the safety of foreign suppliers and imported food, and allows the FDA to deny entry to food that lacks certification or comes from a foreign facility that has refused U.S. inspectors. In addition, it requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a pilot project to test produce traceability initiatives.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association here said it supports the requirement that all food companies have a comprehensive food safety plan in place. Several other industry associations, including Food Marketing Institute and the American Frozen Food Institute, also issued statements in support of the bills.
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