June 3, 2009
Hearing Today to Review Discussion Draft
WASHINGTON, D.C. —Consumers Union (CU) today urged Congress to include mandatory testing and reporting of contamination to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in its comprehensive food safety bill. CU praised Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Representative John Dingell (D-MI) and Representative Bart Stupak (D-MI) for their leadership in introducing The Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, a draft of which was discussed today during a hearing by the Subcommittee on Health of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
“Consumers Union applauds the leadership of the Committee for taking action to finally reform our broken food safety system,” said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives for CU. “This is a much needed step to protect the safety of our nation’s food supply. As Congress moves forward on this legislation, we urge members to add an important provision to require testing and reporting for contaminants, the critical need for which was highlighted by the recent case of Peanut Corporation of America, which, in 12 different instances, found salmonella in its peanut butter and continued to ship deadly peanut products without being required to report known contamination.”
After years of an underfunded and overstretched agency and countless food safety lapses—including record recalls of contaminated spinach, peppers and peanut butter—the Act would finally give FDA the funding and powers it will need to better ensure the safety of the American food supply. CU has long advocated for many of the important new provisions in this draft bill, including:
Providing FDA with mandatory recall authority, which the agency currently lacks;
Requiring high risk facilities to be inspected at least every 6-18 months (currently facilities are inspected once a decade on average);
Requiring electronic traceability systems that are able to track identified contaminated food back to its source; and
Requiring all food producers, foreign as well as domestic, to register with FDA and pay a $1,000 registration fee, a modest and necessary source of revenue to bolster food safety oversight.
“For consumers, food safety is not a partisan issue,” Halloran said. “The Food Safety Enhancement Act discussion draft provides smart, long-overdue solutions to our food safety crisis, and it should be supported by members of Congress from both parties. We urge both parties to unite to address the problem before there is another outbreak that causes more sickness and deaths.”
Consumers Union’ NotInMyFood.org Campaign calls for many of the reforms included in the Act.
David Butler or Kristina Edmunson, 202-462-6262 (office)
Naomi Starkman, 917-539-3924 (mobile)
Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, is an independent, nonprofit testing and information organization serving the consumer. We are a comprehensive source of unbiased advice about products and services, personal finance, health, nutrition, and other consumer concerns. Since 1936, our mission has been to test products, inform the public, and protect consumers