U.S – The United States House Appropriations Committee is set to establish a food safety agency solely responsible for keeping tabs on the food in the market through the Food Safety Administration Act.
Chair of the Committee Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the, legislation that would establish the Food Safety Administration citing that food safety is currently a second-class citizen at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The House Committee on Appropriations is a committee of the United States House of Representatives that is responsible for passing appropriation bills along with its Senate counterpart.
DeLauro pointed out that there are currently no food policy experts in charge of food safety at the FDA adding that this has contributed to a string of product contaminations and subsequent recalls that disrupt the supply chain, contribute to rising prices, and in many cases, result in consumer illness and death.
“Look no further than the recent infant formula crisis to understand the need to create a single food safety agency, led by a food policy expert, to ensure the safety of products that go to market. I’m proud to join my friend Senator Durbin in introducing legislation that would strengthen food safety and protect consumers,” she said.
Durbin also lamented that the FDA has in recent years failed to properly ensure the safety of the nation’s food supply.
“The sad reality is that FDA seems unwilling or unable to use their authority to protect Americans from preventable illness and death. For that reason, Congresswoman DeLauro and I are introducing legislation to transfer all of FDA’s food responsibilities to a new agency that, we hope, will have more success in protecting the foods in our kids’ lunch boxes and on our dining, room tables,” he said.
The Food Safety Administration Act will establish the Food Safety Administration under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) by incorporating the existing food programs within FDA into this separate agency: the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) and the Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA).
Agency to strengthen oversight
This agency would be led by a food safety expert confirmed by the Senate.
In addition to bringing focused leadership and more accountability, a unified structure and a full-time senior leader will strengthen oversight of the food supply and enhance the industry’s ability to operate effectively.
Every year, thousands of Americans die from foodborne illness, thousands more are hospitalized and millions get sick, said Scott Faber, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs for the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
“Many of these illnesses are preventable, but only if we decide to inspect food manufacturers, quickly respond to outbreaks and stop letting the chemical companies decide whether the chemicals added to our food are safe. To do so, we must have a food safety leader who is laser-focused on our food supply,” he said.
Joining DeLauro and Durbin as original cosponsors of this legislation are Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, U.S. Reps Nannette Diaz Barragán of California, Jimmy Panetta of California, Gwen Moore of Wisconsin, Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey.
The legislation is endorsed by Center for Food Safety, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Reports, Defend Our Health, Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, Healthy Babies Bright Futures, STOP Foodborne Illness, and Center for Environmental Health.
The FDA regulates approximately 80 percent of the U.S food supply, and consumers and industry depend on the FDA food program to perform its regulatory role effectively.
Luxembourg, a small European country, is also set to establish a single agency in charge of official controls in the food chain to be known as the Luxembourg Veterinary and Food Administration (ALVA).
The new authority will bring together all official controls relating to the food supply chain under the remit of the Minister of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development.