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December 8, 2010
“Madam Speaker, I rise in strong support of the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011and FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act is bipartisan legislation that will fundamentally change the way we ensure the safety of the food supply and protect American consumers and business.
A series of foodborne disease outbreaks have laid bare unacceptable gaps in our food safety laws. In the past two years alone, we have witnessed issues of melamine in infant formula; tainted peppers from Mexico; harmful seafood from China; E. coli in spinach; and most recently eggs contaminated with Salmonella. Each year, 76 million people contract a foodborne illness in the United States and according to CDC, about 5,000 die.
This legislation contains policy solutions that will address this preventable problem situation.
The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act strikes an important key balance: it does not create any unnecessary burdens for farmers and small businesses, but it allows FDA to retain all of its existing authority, and gives the agency the new authorities it needs to trace and prevent food safety problems that may originate on the farm or in other sectors of the food supply chain.
Let me talk about some of the key provisions of this bill:
This legislation gives FDA clear authority to issue and require manufacturers to meet strong, enforceable standards that will ensure the safety of various types of food.
FDA will establish a food traceback system, so that public health officials can more rapidly determine the sources of foodborne disease outbreaks.
FDA will be required to inspect all food facilities more frequently.
FDA will be given new authority to ensure that imported foods are safe.
FDA will be given new tools to enable them to act quickly when presented with a food safety emergency — like the ability to require companies to conduct recalls of unsafe food and the authority to more broadly access facility records.
Most fundamentally, because of this bill, FDA will not be the only cop on the beat. The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act creates a new focus on prevention, and a shared responsibility between FDA and food manufacturers to keep the food supply safe. Additionally, all importers of foreign food will have to demonstrate that the food they seek to bring into this country complies with U.S. safety standards.
Madam Speaker, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act is a product of bipartisan cooperation. It enjoys the support of the Administration, consumer advocates, and industry, including groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Grocery Manufacturers Association.
The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act is a well-vetted and mature piece of legislation. It closely resembles legislation I drafted and the House passed over 16 months ago with strong bipartisan support. I applaud the work of my colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans, and the interest groups who have worked tirelessly and in good faith with me on this legislation.
Like much of our work in Congress, this legislation is a starting point. Once FDA is granted these new authorities, we must work together to institute registration fees that will give the Agency a reliable funding stream and ensure they can fulfill their new responsibilities. These registration fees were part of my bill that passed the House and were supported by Republicans and Democrats, industry and consumer advocates. I look forward to our continued partnership next Congress on this next action.
Thank you, Madam Speaker. I urge my colleagues to vote in the affirmative and I reserve the balance of my time.”