While the Senate vote on S 510 was somewhat divided, 73 yeas to 25 nays, the response from interest groups appears to be mostly supportive.  Here’s a sampling of responses received by Food Safety News staff:

Elizabeth Hitch, Public Health Advocate, US Public Interest Research Group:

“According to the CDC, one in four Americans get sick, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and more than 5000 people die each year from eating contaminated food.  It’s unacceptable that this continues in the United States in the 21st century. The House passed its food safety bill more than a year ago.  Since then, there have been more than 100 voluntary recalls of FDA regulated foods because of pathogens like salmonella and E. coli.  Congress should work quickly to finalize the bill and deliver it to the President’s desk.”

Bryan Silbermann, president and CEO of Produce Marketing Association, which represents 3,000 companies involved in global produce and floral supply:

“PMA has long and energetically been engaged in efforts to modernize food safety laws to protect public health and enhance consumer confidence.  We supported the original Senate bill, but unfortunately recent language added to that bill did not align  with PMA’s fundamental position of risk and science-based food safety efforts, resulting in our recent opposition.  We stand firm that the entire produce industry must be committed to providing safe fruits and vegetables, no exceptions, because pathogens don’t discriminate based on company size, commodity or distance to market.”

Michael F. Jacobson, executive director, Center for Science in the Public Interest:

“Everyone who eats will benefit from this historic legislation.  FDA will have new tools to help ensure that America’s food supply is safer, causing fewer illnesses and deaths.  Preventing contamination in the first place is paramount to reducing the health care and economic costs that are caused when unsafe food makes people sick.”

Gus Wahner, Western Organization of Resource Councils:

“The Senate’s acceptance of the Tester-Hagan amendment is a victory for small farmers and food producers, and for consumers who enjoy fresh local farm produce and locally processed food products like jams and jellies.   Food safety is a priority we all share, but one size does not fit all when it comes to imposing federal regulations on small, local food businesses, including farmers market vendors, who are already effectively regulated by state and local regulations and the FDA.

Francesca Grifo, director of the Scientific Integrity Program at Union of Concerned Scientists:

“This bipartisan legislation is good news for every American who eats.  It would help restore American families trust in the US food supply by holding the food industry more accountable for the safety of its products.  The legislation would give the FDA the authority for the first time to force companies to recall contaminated food, and would allow the government to stop the distribution of tainted food much more quickly than in the past. The legislation also would reduce undue corporate influence over federal food safety agencies.  Current law makes it possible for manufacturers to withhold information from federal health officials about food safety problems.  This law would help the FDA trace outbreaks to their source.”

Dr. Georges Benjamin, director, American Public Health Association (APHA):

“S510 is important public health legislation that would grant the FDA greater regulatory authority over the nation’s food supply and begin to address the dangerous gaps in our nation’s food safety system.  Every year, millions of Americans suffer from outbreaks as a result of eating contaminated food, a widespread problem due in large part to our nation’s woefully outdated food safety system.  Placing a stronger emphasis on food safety regulations that help prevent these outbreaks is critical to protecting and improving overall public health.”

Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO, Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA):

“This landmark legislation provides FDA with the resources and authorities the agency needs to help strengthen our nation’s food safety system by making prevention the focus of our food safety strategies….  The food and beverage industry is committed to partnering with Congress, the Administration and the FDA to strengthen and modernize our nation’s food safety system.”

Chris Waldrop, director, Consumer Federation of America’s Food Policy Institute:

“Americans expect our food to be safe.  We’ve been shocked over the past few years by a series of large outbreaks of foodborne illness caused by common food products such as spinach, green onions, peppers, peanut butter, cookie dough and eggs.  The Senate’s action moves the country toward a new food safety law designed to meet the challenges inherent in a modern, global food system.

The new law requires a fundamental shift in the FDA”s food safety program, emphasizing prevention instead of waiting until people become sick or die.  The act specifically directs the FDA to prevent foodborne illness and requires the agency, food processors and produce farmers to identify areas of risk and act to prevent contamination. It also requires the FDA to assure that imported food is as safe as domestically produced food.”


Carol Tucker-Foreman, distinguished fellow in food policy, Consumer Federation of America:

“Food safety reform isn’t finished yet.  Differences in the House and Senate bills have to be resolved quickly so a final bill can be sent to the President.  Time is very short but it can be done.  .. We need Congress to end the food version of Russian Roulette that strains our faith in the commitment of both markets and government to meet their food safety responsibilities.  Final congressional agreement and the President’s signature will go far toward sparing American families the personal and economic pain of foodborne illness.”

Judith McGeary, executive director, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance:

“We are very pleased that the Senators included the amendment in the final bill, providing critical protection for small-scale direct-marketing producers who would otherwise have been unnecessarily burdened with new federal regulations.  But FDA’s track record is one of favoring large, industrial-scale agriculture, and we’re concerned that the agency will use its expanded powers under S510 in the same way.  We plan to be involved in both the appropriations and rulemaking process to protect both family farmers and the consumers who wish to obtain safe, healthy foods from them.”

Judith C. Rodriguez, president, American Dietetic Association:

“The ADA believes long overdue safeguards will be put in place to protect the country’s food supply and the health of Americans.  The legislation expands the authority of the FDA to regulate and recall foods and represents the largest change in the country’s food safety laws in more than 70 years…  ADA believes Americans should be able to expect a safe and secure food supply as well as good nutrition and the healthy foods that have been shown to help reduce the incidence of many chronic diseases.”

Pat Buck, executive director, Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention:

“This is the most important food safety legislation in our lifetime. The Senate recognized that the status quo cannot continue.  This vote is a historic step in bringing our nation’s food safety systems into the 21st century.

S 510 will strengthen FDA’s ability to protect America’s consumers.  With responsibility for 80 percent of America’s food supply, FDA has been saddled with a 1938 law that could not adequately meet the challenges of modern food production methods.”

Ferd Hoefner, policy director, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition:

“The Senate did a good job taking into account the concerns of sustainable and organic farmers.  While not a perfect bill from our perspective, se believe it contains important directives to the FDA to develop rules and guidance to improve food safety without resorting one-size-fits-all regulations that create barriers to emerging local and regional food and agricultural systems.”

Dave Murphy, founder and director, Food Democracy Now!, which promotes sustainable agriculture:

“Passage of the bill… is an historic victory for family farmers and the local food movement.  In overcoming the backlash of agricultural giants who desperately fought to kill these protections for family farmers, the sustainable agricultural movement has shown that it is a political force to be reckoned with.    The bill is far from perfect, but the inclusion of these protections guarantees that farmers that sell directly to consumers, farmers markets, grocery stores and restaurants with sales under $500,000 and sell in state or within 275 miles of their farm or facility are exempted from expensive regulations that could drive them out of business.”

Robert Guenther, vice president of public policy for United Fresh, which represents the fresh produce industry:

“We are disappointed that the Senate continues to ignore the egregious loopholes allowed in this legislation that will erode consumer confidence in our nation’s food safety system. Now, when going to a supermarket, restaurant, farmers market or roadside stand, consumers will be faced with the question of whether the fruits and vegetables offered for sale adhere to basic food safety standards or not.  Unfortunately, instead of adhering to a science- and risk-based approach, the Senate has chosen to include a provision that will exempt certain segments of the food industry based on the size of the operation, geographic location and customer base.  This creates a gaping hole in the ability of consumers to trust the safety of all foods in the commercial marketplace.”

Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives at Consumers Union (Consumer Reports):

“This critically needed legislation represents a major milestone for food safety reform and for greater consumer protection from foodborne illness.”