Congressional Heavyweights Unveil Food Safety Measure

The Food and Drug Administration might actually be able to protect us from dangerous food if Congress passes a bill recently circulated by six powerful members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The draft legislation would finally empower the FDA to quarantine suspect foods and slap violators with both civil fines and criminal charges.

Among other things, the proposal would put greater responsibility on growers, manufacturers and food handlers by requiring them to identify contamination risks, document the steps they take to prevent them and provide those records to federal regulators. The legislation also would allow the FDA to require private laboratories used by food manufacturers to report the detection of pathogens in food products directly to the government.

“This is a major step forward,” said Erik Olson, director of food and consumer product safety at the Pew Charitable Trusts. “This has really been needed for decades. We’re still operating under a food and drug law signed by Teddy Roosevelt.”

The bill would help prevent a repeat of the Peanut Corporation of America’s salmonella outbreak, but in order to truly protect consumers, Congress needs to charge a single agency with safeguarding our food supply.

House Calls for Closer Watch on Food Supply [The Washington Post]
(Photo: law_keven)