Liveblogging The House Energy And Commerce Committee Hearing On Food Safety

Liveblogging The House Energy And Commerce Committee Hearing On Food Safety

Starting today at 10 a.m., the powerful Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, John Dingell (D-MI), will hold a hearing on H.R. 3610, The Food and Drug Import Safety Act of 2007, or, as we have dubbed the bill, The Poison-Free Food Act. The bill would dramatically alter the FDA’s handling of imported foods, empowering the agency to:

  • Issue mandatory recalls;
  • Limit food imports to ports clustered near FDA inspection labs;
  • Require a country of origin labels for food, drugs and medical devices;
  • Subject exporters to a strict certification program administered by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Committee will hear from two panels: The first will see FDA Commissioners and regulators defending their agency, while the second will host a panoply of foodies, including the Coalition for a Stronger FDA, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, and Big Pharma.

Congress Prepares The FDA For Battle With The Chinese Poison Train

Congress Prepares The FDA For Battle With The Chinese Poison Train

House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell (D-MI) has drafted a bill that will dramatically alter the way the FDA handles imported food. Under the draft bill, food imports would be limited to ports clustered near FDA field labs, and would need to display a label identifying the country of origin. Exporters would be subject to a strict new certification program established by the Department of Health and Human Services. And that is just the start.

The FDA Wants To Fire 196 Food Safety Analysts

The FDA Wants To Fire 196 Food Safety Analysts

Congress has questions about an internal FDA memo calling for the sacking of 196 food safety analysts. The memo, titled “New Organization Staffing,” was released to the House Energy and Commerce Committee as part of an ongoing investigation into the contamination of spinach, peanut butter, and other assorted items. The FDA currently inspects less than 1% of regulated imports. Chairman John Dingell (D-MI) and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Bart Stupak (D-MI) sent a letter to the FDA expressing their displeasure with the cuts.

    “This number represents 37 percent of the total number of lab analysts currently working in the Office of Regulatory Affairs laboratories,” the letter states. “This slashing of analysts comes after an already 24 percent reduction in lab analysts between 2003 and 2007. To say the least, these numbers are deeply disturbing.”

The analyst cuts are part of a larger FDA plan to close 7 of the 13 labs that test samples from inspections. The FDA is willing to reconsider its position, but it first wants Congress to pony-up more cash. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER