Last week, Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, released a draft food safety bill that would give broad authority and enforcement tools to the Food and Drug Administration. The bill also would place increased responsibility on the food industry, with calls for enhanced ingredient tracking, country of origin labeling and fees for routine FDA inspections, which IDFA has consistently opposed.
"In general, we support the committee's efforts to improve the nation's food safety system, because nothing is more important than the safety and trust of our members' customers and consumers," said Ruth Saunders, IDFA senior director of policy and legislative affairs. "We support the changes that focus on science-based risk prevention, but some of the provisions in the draft bill have gone too far without providing any real safety benefits to consumers."
The bill combines provisions from other previously proposed food safety bills, including one offered by Representative John Dingell (D-MI). This combined bill would raise $300 million by requiring all food facilities to pay an annual, uncapped registration fee. The new fees would increase FDA's overall funding level by approximately 50 percent.
IDFA has joined other food-industry groups, including the Grocery Manufacturers Association, to oppose the proposed fees. Just last month, Saunders spoke against the fees during the inaugural meeting of the President's Food Safety Working Group at the White House.
"We believe asking manufacturers to pay the fees associated with routine inspections of their facilities represents a potential conflict of interest," Saunders said. "However, we would support performance-based fees and fees for accelerated FDA services."
The committee has scheduled a hearing for this Wednesday to discuss the proposed legislation and intends to consider the bill in mark up as soon as the second week in the June. IDFA will remain engaged in advocating for improvements in the bill.
For more information, contact Saunders at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-220-3553.