11.18.09

Burr Food Safety Bill Approved by HELP Committee

Today, S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, a bipartisan bill cosponsored by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), passed out of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. This bill strengthens and modernizes FDA's tools to better protect our nation's food supply, improving the abilities of the FDA to quickly and effectively respond to food-borne health threats.

"Americans are all too familiar with the nationwide outbreaks and recalls in recent years that have resulted in illnesses across the country." Senator Burr said. "In addition to the health concerns, these incidents also had a significant economic impact on American growers and producers across our nation. I applaud the hard work of my colleagues on the HELP committee in addressing this issue and making food safety legislation a priority. This piece of legislation is essential to protect our nation's food supply and keep Americans safe and healthy."

Specifically, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act would improve the ability of the FDA to detect and respond to food-borne illnesses by evaluating safety threats at food facilities, increase scrutiny of imported foods, and explore ways to track fruits and vegetables in the case of an outbreak. It would also give the FDA the authority to issue a mandatory recall of an article of food if it determines that there is a reasonable probability that it is adulterated and will cause serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals.

This bill also includes a bipartisan amendment by Senator Burr, cosponsored by Senator Bennet (D-CO), that would address concerns expressed by farmers and small businesses by ensuring consultation, education, and outreach on behalf of the FDA with farms, businesses, and farmers who sell directly to consumers to help them understand and comply with produce safety requirements. This amendment, which would require the FDA to hold public meetings in various locations across the country, has been endorsed by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

"It is imperative that we utilize the established relationships that our Cooperative Extension Service, State Departments of Agriculture, and Land Grant Universities have with small, medium, and large growers to communicate the goals of this legislation and to help smaller growers understand the new regulations," Senator Burr added."Additionally, having FDA provide national training standards for States will ensure that the folks on the ground are adequately prepared to carry out the national food safety mission."