June 10, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health today approved the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, sending the bill to the full committee for a vote expected next week.
Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, supports the bill, which would overhaul food safety laws by tightening inspections and imposing new penalties.
Ami Gadhia, policy counsel for Consumers Union, said the bill gives the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the funds and authority it needs to help keep unsafe foods off store shelves and out of consumers’ homes.
“We’re pleased that the bill is moving forward,” Gadhia said. “With the recent string of alarming contaminations discovered in our food supply, Congress needs to pass this bill as quickly as possible. When we survey consumers about food safety, we find a very strong desire for increased inspections of facilities, and this bill ups inspections considerably. We would have preferred that the current bill contain a higher registration fee to provide more funding for FDA oversight, but we’re hopeful that the full committee will approve the bill soon without watering down the strong protections it provides consumers.”
CU has long advocated for many of the important new provisions in this draft bill, including:
* Requiring high risk facilities to be inspected at least every 6-18 months (currently facilities are inspected once a decade on average);
* Providing FDA with mandatory recall authority, which the agency currently lacks; and
* Requiring electronic traceability systems that are able to track identified contaminated food back to its source.
Consumers Union is asking lawmakers to consider making the bill stronger by adding a provision to require testing and reporting for contaminants to the FDA, and urging them to resist industry demands to weaken the bill.
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.