Independent Food Safety Agency Bill Drafted

Rep. Rose DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have drafted the Safe Food Act of 2015, which, if passed, would create an independent food safety agency, according to published reports. Food safety authority is currently divided among 15 agencies.

Despite passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2010, which gives the FDA more authority to deal with emerging food-safety risks, the lawmakers said more needs to be done.

"Without major structural reforms and funding increases, our fragmented, uncoordinated food safety system will continue to jeopardize public health," they wrote in an opinion piece that ran recently in The Hill. "Congress, with the support of President Obama, needs to act now to do what several other industrialized nations have already done — create a single food agency."

According to DeLauro, foodborne illness affects 48 million Americans annually.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), for one, is an enthusiastic supporter of the proposed legislation. "It's crazy to have one cabinet secretary in charge of chicken, beef and pepperoni pizza, and another cabinet secretary responsible for eggs, milk and cheese pizza," said CSPI Food Safety Director Caroline Smith DeWaal, noting that the Safe Food Act "ensures all food processors utilize systems to prevent contamination, and when problems occur, creates a uniform approach to ensuring food safety, including mandatory recall authority for meat and poultry products."

DeWaal added that the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy consumer group hoped "to see bipartisan support for this commonsense legislation."

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