Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced a bill late last week aimed at reforming food safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

meat-poultry-pork406.jpgThe 67-page bill, introduced Thursday in the U.S. Senate with no cosponsors, widens the definition of ‘adulterated’ meat, poultry, and egg products and adds criminal penalties for food manufacturers that knowingly introduce contaminated food into commerce.

“Recent events demonstrate that the food safety system administered by the [USDA] Food Safety and Inspection Service needs modernizing to fully control hazards in regulated food; and these events have adversely affected consumer confidence,” reads the bill.

The legislation also points to emerging pathogens–like antibiotic-resistant Salmonella and Shiga toxin-producing serotypes of E. coli–as a reality that places an increasing number of people at “high risk for foodborne illness.”

“Improving federal oversight of food safety requires a modern food safety mandate and clear authorities to effectively protect the public from foodborne diseases associated with the products that the Food Safety and Inspection Service regulates.”

The bill seeks to:

(1) Establish an effective, preventative food safety system administered by FSIS by focusing new attention on emerging pathogens, building an integrated, systemwide approach to food safety with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and providing “integrated food safety research capability,” by partnering with academic institutions and other science entities.

(2) Modernize and strengthen the federal food safety system to ensure more effective application and efficient management of the laws for the protection and improvement of public health.

(3) Establish that food establishments have responsibility to ensure that all stages of production, processing, and distribution of the products of the food establishments, or under the control of the food establishments, satisfy the requirements of the bill.

Specifically, Gillibrand’s bill seeks to amend the Federal Meat Inspection Act so that the term ‘adulterated’ includes emerging pathogens “associated with actual or potential human illnesses or death, including at minimum pathogens such as antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella or enterohemorrhagic (EHEC) Shiga toxin-producing serotypes of E. coli.”

S. 1529, which was referred to the Senate Agriculture Committee, can be viewed here

  • Gabrielle Meunier

    Excellent! Seems like a nice, compatible bill to FSMA. Hope it makes it through . . .

  • Ben Mark

    FDA issued a recall notice from meat giant Cargill for a further 185,000 pounds (84,000 kg) of ground turkey over fears of Salmonella-tainted turkey. It looks like not everything is “recycled” by the consumers. I just read USDA-AMS hardly checked on the COOL Law, to protect the industry. No enforcement of existing laws, why to have another law?

  • Minkpuppy

    Good. If this goes through I might stick with FSIS a little longer.
    Ben: FSIS issued the recall notice on the ground turkey. Meat is not FDA’s jurisdiction. Anyone that is reporting that FDA issued it is misinformed. Meat recalls are ALWAYS issued by the USDA, Food Safety Inspection Service.
    I’m getting really tired of the shoddy reporting when it comes to these food recalls. The reporters just assume FDA is in charge of all food when they are not. If it’s meat, it’s always going to be USDA, specifically FSIS. Everything else will be FDA.

  • Bob

    FDA is in most cases worthless paper shufflers that exit for reasons of employing the unemployable. in my experience the usda is on the ball most of the time.

  • Mary

    I’m in favor of this bill if it really will protect us consumers. I have a question though — how much if any meat/poultry/fruit/vegetables comes from overseas? I know a lot of seafood, especially shrimp/fish, etc., comes from overseas. I’d like to know if there are any safety regulations and testing done with overseas products?? I’ve looked all over (in our area) for shrimp from our own fishermen, and don’t find any. If it exists, where can I find it? I see ads for the Gulf fishermen, as well as ads for Florida orange juice. I do buy only 100% Florida juice, as I know they have standards to meet and I like to support the “made in America” theme. Thanks.

  • Sandy

    @ Mary the shipments from overseas are inspected by FDA, USDA or FISIS at the Port of Entry (which is the place where the items are unloaded for shipment in the US, NOT where it initially comes into the country, which is the Port of Arrival)there is a system that alerts the inspectors of the arrival of some shipments which might be more hazardous than others called “Predictive Risk Based Evaluation for Dynamic Import Compliance Tracking (PREDICT). Less than 1% of all imports get screened. Importers who have a good history of compliance are labelled in the “Free and Secure Trade” partners and their imports are not screened. Engaging a good Broker to handle your products entry into the US can get around these safeguards easily. By choosing a more leisurely Port of Entry. For example a shipment can arrive in Miami but be screened in Oklahoma City, you can choose where its screened. I buy American produce.