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Legislators Introduce Bipartisan Food Safety Proposals in Senate and House

Mar 09, 2009

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), joined by Senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), last week introduced a bipartisan bill that would give the Food and Drug Administration significant new regulatory authority over imported and domestic foods, as well as the entire food industry. The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S 510) is substantially the same bill as the version that was introduced in the Senate last summer during the 110th Congress.

The bill would require all registered FDA facilities to have a food safety plan to identify potential food safety hazards and preventive controls. The bill also would regulate fresh produce, require new regulations to prevent intentional adulteration of bulk food products identified as high risk, establish supplier verification requirements for imported foods, and give FDA mandatory recall authority. To cover anticipated costs of implementation, the bill would establish a limited system of user fees that would reimburse FDA for costs associated with food-product recalls and facility reinspection.

Notably absent from the Durbin bill are two concepts included in other food safety bills currently being considered by Congress. The other bills would impose broad ranging new user fees and mandatory certification requirements for imported food products.

The Durbin bill is co-sponsored by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Richard Burr (R-NC), Chris Dodd (D-CT), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA).

A similar bill was introduced last week in the House of Representatives by Representatives Jim Costa (D-CA) and Adam Putnam (R-FL). The Safe Food Enforcement, Assessment, Standards and Targeting Act (H.R. 1332,), known as the Safe FEAST Act of 2009, also was developed with a bipartisan approach and input from the food industry.

Because the issue is receiving considerable attention from lawmakers, IDFA is closely monitoring all of the food safety bills. IDFA has asked members of its food safety working group to comment specifically on the Durbin bill.

For more information, contact Ruth Saunders, IDFA senior director of policy and legislative affairs, at or (202) 220-3553.


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