Legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate would grant the Food and Drug Administration new authority to oversee the nation's food supply. Sponsored by Senator Richard Durbin, D- Ill., the bill would give FDA authority to recall products on its own, instead of relying on industry cooperation. The bill would also require the FDA to step up inspections of food facilities and to issue new rules to improve the quality of imported food and to combat contaminants in fresh produce.
"The current system really just reacts to food illness," Durban said. "We have to have a system that is protective of consumers by preventing outbreaks or nipping them in the bud."
A July survey for the Pew Charitable Trusts found that nearly 90% of voters favored new food safety measures similar to those found in Durbin's bill and a slightly more expansive proposal that the House passed over the summer. Erik Olson, director of chemical and food safety programs in Pew's Health & Human Services Policy program, says this is a rare situation where the industry is shoulder to shoulder with consumers.