Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), and Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced the “FDA Food Safety Modernization Act” that will give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) new authorities, tools and resources to reform the nation’s food safety system. The bill has been endorsed by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the National Restaurant Association.

Durbin said, “Over the last year we’ve seen major recalls of peanut butter spiked with salmonella, spinach laced with E-coli and chili loaded with botulism. These aren’t isolated incidents and are the result of an outdated, underfunded and overwhelmed food-safety system. Today’s bipartisan bill will improve the FDA’s ability to prevent food-borne illness outbreaks and ensure FDA responds quickly and effectively when outbreaks do occur.”

Prevention of food safety problems:

  • Hazard analysis and preventive controls – requires all facilities to establish preventive plans to address identified hazards and prevent adulteration; gives FDA access to these plans and relevant documentation.
  • Access to records – expands FDA access to records in a food emergency.
  • Third-party labs and audits – allows FDA to recognize lab-accreditation bodies to ensure U.S. food testing labs meet high quality standards and requires food testing performed by these labs to be reported to FDA. Allows FDA to enable qualified third parties to certify that foreign food facilities comply with U.S. food safety standards.
  • Imports –requires importers to verify the safety of foreign suppliers and imported food. Allows FDA to require certification for high-risk foods, and deny entry to a food that lacks certification or originates from a foreign facility that’s refused U.S. inspectors.
Improvements to detect and respond to food-borne illness outbreaks:
  • Inspection – increases FDA inspections at all food facilities, including annual inspections of high-risk facilities and inspections of other facilities at least once every four years.
  • Surveillance – enhances food-borne illness surveillance systems to improve the collection, analysis, reporting and usefulness of data on food-borne illnesses.
  • Traceability – requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a pilot project to test and evaluate new methods for rapidly and effectively tracking/tracing fruits and vegetables in the event of a food-borne illness outbreak.
  • Mandatory recall – gives FDA authority to order a mandatory recall of a food product when a company fails to voluntarily recall the product upon FDA’s request.
  • Suspension of registration – empowers FDA to suspend a food facility’s registration if a reasonable probability exists that food from the facility will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.

Enhances U.S. food defense capabilities:
  • Directs FDA to help food companies protect their products from intentional contamination and calls for a national strategy to protect our food supply from terrorist threats and rapidly respond to food emergencies.

Increases FDA resources:
  • Increases funding for FDA’s food-safety activities through increased appropriations and targeted fees for domestic and foreign facilities.