The American Public Health Association celebrates National Public Health Week this week.  The association wants to create “a place where everyone has access to health care and services, where we’re celebrated for embracing healthy lifestyles, and our communities and neighborhoods make it easy for us to make healthy choices.”

national-public-health-week.pngPerhaps one way to celebrate National Public Health Week is for the Senate to pass S. 510–the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.  With 47,000,000 sickened, 325,000 hospitalized and 5,000 killed each year due to foodborne illnesses, it seems like public health would benefit by reducing those numbers?

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) to expand the authority of the Secretary of Health and Human Services to regulate food, including by authorizing him or her to suspend the registration of a food facility.   

S. 510 requires each food facility to evaluate hazards and implement preventive controls.  The Act directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to assess and collect fees related to: (1) food facility reinspection; (2) food recalls; and (3) the voluntary qualified importer program.

In addition, S. 510 requires the Health and Human Services Secretary and the Secretary of Agriculture to prepare the National Agriculture and Food Defense Strategy.

The Act requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to: (1) identify preventive programs and practices to promote the safety and security of food; (2) promulgate regulations on sanitary food transportation practices; (3) develop a policy to manage the risk of food allergy and anaphylaxis in schools and early childhood education programs; (4) allocate inspection resources based on the risk profile of food facilities or food; (5) recognize bodies that accredit food testing laboratories; and (6) improve the capacity of the Secretary to track and trace raw agricultural commodities.

S. 510 requires the Secretary, acting through the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to enhance foodborne illness surveillance systems.  It also authorizes the Secretary to order an immediate cessation of distribution, or a recall, of food.

The Act requires the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assist state, local, and tribal governments in preparing for, assessing, decontaminating, and recovering from an agriculture or food emergency.

S. 510 also provides for: (1) foreign supplier verification activities; (2) a voluntary qualified importer program; and (3) the inspection of foreign facilities registered to import food.

Public health and safe food seem to go hand-in-hand.  Let’s celebrate National Public Health Week (April 5 – 11, 2010) by Passing S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.