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Obama Nudges Senate on Food Safety Reform

President Obama issued a public statement yesterday in support of the pending Senate food safety bill, the first time the president has publicly pressed for U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food safety reform since early 2009, when his Administration launched the Food Safety Working Group.

In the statement President Obama noted the Food Safety Working Group, chaired by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, has issued recommendations on how to upgrade the food safety system and he outlined a few of the actions the Administration has taken.

“My Administration has taken steps to reduce the prevalence of E. coli, implemented new standards to reduce exposure to Campylobacter, and issued a rule to control Salmonella contamination,” said Obama. “Among other accomplishments, the FDA has conducted a pilot study on a tracing system, and HHS, in collaboration with USDA, has rolled out an enhanced and updated www.foodsafety.gov site to provide consumers rapid access to information on food recalls.”

“But there is more to be done,” said Obama. “Today, I thank the House for its work and support efforts in the Senate to pass S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.”

“This bipartisan bill would complement the work already undertaken by the Food Safety Working Group,” he continued. “The bill addresses longstanding challenges in the food safety and defense system by promoting a prevention-oriented approach to the safety of our food supply and provides the Federal Government with the appropriate tools to accomplish its core food safety goals.”

As Food Safety News reported yesterday, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act has remained stalled in the Senate since it was unanimously voted out of committee in mid-November of 2009.

Advocates working on the bill welcomed the president’s statement as a sign that food safety reform has not been completely lost in a sea of ambitious legislative priorities.

“Members of Consumer Federation of America are grateful to the President for his leadership on this issue,” said Carol Tucker-Foreman, director of the organization’s Food Policy Institute.  “There is no reason for the Senate to continue to delay action on this important bill. Unlike other legislation that is stalled in the Senate because of partisan disagreement, S. 510 has strong support from both sides of the aisle.”

“The President has urged action. The House has already acted. The American people overwhelmingly support strong new food safety law that will reduce foodborne illness.  Senators Reid and McConnell should get on board and schedule this legislation for the floor next week,” said Tucker-Foreman.

Hill staff working on the issue remain hopeful the bill could be brought to the floor in the next work period, before the month-long August recess. Among the priorities that could compete with the bill for floor time: Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination, jobless benefits, Child Nutrition Act reauthorization, and climate change legislation.

© Food Safety News
  • hhamil

    Carol Tucker-Foreman knows that the Senate is not “delaying action” rather the Bill Manager Committee continues to consider requests for changes to S 510. The fact that S 510 hasn’t come to the floor does NOT mean work is not being done; rather, it means that flaws are being revealed which the House refused to allow to see the light of day.
    Were Ms. Tucker-Foreman and the Make Our Food Safe coalition advocates open to a genuine dialogue about the actual impact of the S 510/HR 2749 instead of lying about its impact, a good food safety bill could emerge. Instead, this industrial-size-only food safety bill would wipe out most of the healthiest and, therefore, safest food in this country: food produced by small producers for local consumption.
    Finally, the delay is revealing the falsehood of advocates’ statements that the FDA hasn’t been modernized in 60 years (There have been dozens of changes to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act during that time–some quite substantial.), the continue incompetence of the FDA (the Subway salmonella cases) and the unused, huge powers the FDA asserts it already has (the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund’s lawsuit over the prohibition against interstate “shipment” of raw milk).
    For more info about the true nature of S 510, please write me at healthyfoodcoalition!@gmail.com or call me at 828/669-4003, 8 AM – 8 PM, Eastern Time, Monday – Saturday.

  • Harry Hamil

    Carol Tucker-Foreman knows that the Senate is not “delaying action” rather the Bill Manager Committee continues to consider requests for changes to S 510. The fact that S 510 hasn’t come to the floor does NOT mean work is not being done; rather, it means that flaws are being revealed which the House refused to allow to see the light of day.
    Were Ms. Tucker-Foreman and the Make Our Food Safe coalition advocates open to a genuine dialogue about the actual impact of the S 510/HR 2749 instead of lying about its impact, a good food safety bill could emerge. Instead, this industrial-size-only food safety bill would wipe out most of the healthiest and, therefore, safest food in this country: food produced by small producers for local consumption.
    Finally, the delay is revealing the falsehood of advocates’ statements that the FDA hasn’t been modernized in 60 years (There have been dozens of changes to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act during that time–some quite substantial.), the continue incompetence of the FDA (the Subway salmonella cases) and the unused, huge powers the FDA asserts it already has (the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund’s lawsuit over the prohibition against interstate “shipment” of raw milk).
    For more info about the true nature of S 510, please write me at healthyfoodcoalition!@gmail.com or call me at 828/669-4003, 8 AM – 8 PM, Eastern Time, Monday – Saturday.

  • Doc Mudd

    Far from “lying”, Ms. Tucker-Foreman displays an accurate grasp of the situation, and its reality. Bipartisan support and broad public support.
    In direct contrast, feigning an inability to comprehend the simple advantage of universal food safety and displaying a penchant for exaggeration, some opponents of the legislation do seem to drift toward prevarication, to wit: “…this…bill would wipe out most of the healthiest and…safest food in this country…” Oh, piffle. Prove your untraceable, uninspected hobby farm food is the “healthiest and safest”. Prove that and then prove that all legitimate, conscientious food producers will be “wiped out” by the legislation. Just prove those two preposterous points of nonsense, if you would, please. No more unfounded opinion or quaint testimonials, simply trot out the abundant scientific evidence proving your dubious claims. You wouldn’t happen also to have a bridge or two to sell us, would you?