House Subcommittees Consider Food Safety, Perchlorate
Two subcommittees of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce held hearings last week on issues of food safety that could affect the dairy industry. At the same time, House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) threatened to slash management salaries at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) if the agency doesn't improve its food safety inspections and standards.
At the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing, members questioned whether FDA can assure the safety of the nation's food supply after the spate of illnesses caused by contaminated spinach, lettuce and peanut butter. At the hearing, Lisa Shames, Acting Director for Natural Resources and Environment from the General Accounting Office, testified that FDA should have mandatory recall authority. A second hearing will be held next month when FDA officials are expected to testify.
In a related move, Rep. DeLauro announced in a press conference last week that her subcommittee will "zero out" salaries for FDA officials in the FY08 budget if the agency doesn't implement standards for produce to prevent foodborne illnesses. She also warned that the subcommittee would give the agency less flexibility to decide how to spend the money it receives and provide more direction on how it should be spent.
Meanwhile, the Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials held a hearing last week focused on the health and environmental impacts of perchlorate, a chemical used in rocket fuel and fireworks that can appear in trace amounts in some foods, including water and milk. Subcommittee members discussed H.R. 1747, a bill that would amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to regulate the amount of perchlorate allowed in water, and considered whether perchlorate amounts in other foods, such as milk and milk products, should be regulated as well.
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Posted April 30, 2007