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Stage Set for Food Safety Bill

Last Thursday, the Senate passed the Wall Street reform bill, handing President Obama his second major legislative victory of the year. The contentious bill, which narrowly passed though the Senate on a 59-39 vote, took over the Senate upon its introduction and halted the progress of most other legislation in the body, including S. 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act.     

Now that Congress has reached a conclusion on Wall Street reform, many lawmakers are calling for the passage of S. 510, citing recent foodborne illness outbreaks to underscore the need for a revamped food safety system.

Last Wednesday, May 19, Congressman John Dingell (D-MI), author of the House companion bill on food safety reform, held a telebriefing conference to discuss the recent E. coli outbreak and the need for swift passage of the S. 510.

Specifically, Congressman Dingell said the recent E. coli O145 outbreak linked to romaine lettuce, which has sickened 33 people in five states, was caused by an inadequate level of FDA oversight. S. 510, he asserted, would limit outbreaks like this in the future.  

“FDA needs the proper resources and authority to maintain proper checks on the food supply,” he said, explaining how provisions in the legislation would expand the power of FDA and its inspectors.

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), a well-known food safety advocate within the House, also urged the Senate to pass the Food Safety Modernization Act in a separate public statement last week.  

“The American people continue to be at risk from dangerous outbreaks while critical food safety reform legislation, which includes provisions that would be helpful in addressing a widespread outbreak through preventive controls and interventions, remains stalled in the Senate, Congresswoman DeLauro said Friday. “I urge the Senate to act quickly before more people become victims of contaminated food and our faulty food safety system–the longer the food safety bill is delayed, the more vulnerable our food safety system remains.”

Those working to pass the legislation say the Senate bill will be brought to a vote before the Memorial Day recess, but nothing is certain at this point.         

“Continued outbreaks of foodborne illness over the last several years–from spinach to peppers to peanuts–have demonstrated that these outbreaks are not random, unpreventable occurrences, but are due to widespread problems with the nation’s food-safety system,” Congressman Dingell said last week. “U.S. food safety oversight is broken and has been in need of reform for decades. This year, Congress has the opportunity to change course and help protect children, families, senior citizens, and all others from foodborne illness.”    

© Food Safety News
  • hhamil

    I’m confused, Mr. Mallove. What say do Representatives Dingell and DeLauro have in the Senate? Your article is about the Senate’s calendar, yet you quote no Senators.
    In addition you state that Rep. Dingell says the recent O145 outbreak “was caused by an inadequate level of FDA oversight.” Really? How about some follow up questions? Exactly what was the failure of the FDA? Was it the failure to use its existing powers or future powers in S 510?
    It certainly wasn’t the lack of a Hazard Analysis & Risk-based Preventive Control (HARPC) plan because no HARPC plan would have included O145 as a known hazard. That’s a well established weakness of such plans. Was it the failure to meet a standard of produce safety? All S 510 does is force the FDA to set standards it has had the authority to set for many years.
    Today’s Senate calendar is HR 4899 the House’s Supplemental Appropriations Bill. Last week, Senate leadership discussed the need for it to address its backlog of confirmation hearings–something only it can do.
    When is Food Safety News going to quit publishing the same, unsupported, general claims from supporters of S 510 as if they were news or something of substance?

  • Harry Hamil

    I’m confused, Mr. Mallove. What say do Representatives Dingell and DeLauro have in the Senate? Your article is about the Senate’s calendar, yet you quote no Senators.
    In addition you state that Rep. Dingell says the recent O145 outbreak “was caused by an inadequate level of FDA oversight.” Really? How about some follow up questions? Exactly what was the failure of the FDA? Was it the failure to use its existing powers or future powers in S 510?
    It certainly wasn’t the lack of a Hazard Analysis & Risk-based Preventive Control (HARPC) plan because no HARPC plan would have included O145 as a known hazard. That’s a well established weakness of such plans. Was it the failure to meet a standard of produce safety? All S 510 does is force the FDA to set standards it has had the authority to set for many years.
    Today’s Senate calendar is HR 4899 the House’s Supplemental Appropriations Bill. Last week, Senate leadership discussed the need for it to address its backlog of confirmation hearings–something only it can do.
    When is Food Safety News going to quit publishing the same, unsupported, general claims from supporters of S 510 as if they were news or something of substance?

  • Doc Mudd

    Pass S.510 to educate and elevate all producers into the 21st Century relative to food safety. Even the confused ones, especially them.

  • http://foleyconsultancy.com/wordpress Chris Foley

    While its true that the HARPC/HACCP provisions of the FSMA (FDA Food Safety Modernization Act) would most likely not have prevented the current E.coli O145 romaine lettuce outbreak, the traceability component of FSMA would have certain have limited its duration, scope and consequently its health impact.
    No, the FSMA is not a magic wand that will magically make everyone safer, but it’s a substantial move in the right direction. That is, of course, if it ever gets passed and signed before it’s completly watered down and only applies to a fraction of our food supply. I think that was Congressman Dingle’s point: Senate, get off your butts and act now.

  • dangermaus

    This is insane. The FDA and USDA do not make food safe. Farmers and food processors do. This bill will make it even MORE expensive for small farms to comply with regulations and drive even more of them out of business. If the government was even vaguely serious about food safety, they’d change how hamburger gets produced in this country – but they don’t because the big food processors write the laws.

  • Gary Pellett

    Small farmers and growers should not have the same requirements for reporting and record keeping as big(corporate) ag, where virtually all of the problems have come fron.
    We have a small orchard and vegetable area. The records mandated under this bill are onerous.
    Gary

  • Gary Pellett

    Small farmers and growers should not have the same requirements for reporting and record keeping as big(corporate) ag, where virtually all of the problems have come fron.
    We have a small orchard and vegetable area. The records mandated under this bill are onerous.
    Gary

  • w jones

    MYTH: This bill will make it illegal to grow vegetables in a back-yard garden.
    FACT: This bill will make it illegal for anyone to sell vegetables from there back-yard garden to restaurants without permits/licensing/regulation
    FACT: Small farmers with “back-yard gardens” grow me nicer produce for my restaurant than anything I can get from SYSCO®.

  • w jones

    MYTH: This bill will make it illegal to grow vegetables in a back-yard garden.
    FACT: This bill will make it illegal for anyone to sell vegetables from there back-yard garden to restaurants without permits/licensing/regulation
    MYTH: Small farms need regulated more than currently allowed by law.
    FACT: Small farmers with “back-yard gardens” grow me nicer produce for my restaurant than anything I can get from SYSCO® Corporation.