The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions has unanimously approved a bipartisan measure to enhance current Food and Drug Administration authority to better protect our nation's food supply. Senators Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., are cosponsors of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. Chambliss says this legislation affords regulators the authority they need to better identify vulnerabilities in the food supply while maintaining the high level of food safety most Americans enjoy and take for granted.
Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, called the bill a great bipartisan achievement and forward looking. Harkin says there is perhaps no issue that affects Americans as universally as food safety; and for many, the production, preparation, or sale of food is a source of livelihood. Harkin added that the bill recognizes that preventive controls are an essential means to improve food safety, and it addresses the need to enhance surveillance, improve emergency response coordination, and heighten the scrutiny of imported foods.
Specifically, the bill includes: language that safeguards dietary supplement manufacturers from duplicative regulation; a grant provision that will help improve the states' food safety capabilities; language to ensure that testing for pathogens is required where appropriate; language to ensure proper coordination between FDA and USDA with respect to current organic agricultural standards; language to ensure that the bill's provisions on growing standards take into consideration natural resource and wildlife conservation standards; language to improve cooperation both among and between federal and state agencies; and language to help ensure that the requirements of this bill are not unduly burdensome on farms or small processors.