WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today on the Food Safety Enhancement Act, which passed the House 283-142:
“Today, the House passed a critical bill that gives the Food and Drug Administration the authority and resources it needs to ensure that all Americans can be confident that the food they are putting on their family tables is free of contamination.
“A string of recent food safety scares shows that this bill is overdue—from the discovery of E. coli in spinach to salmonella in peppers and peanut butter. In fact, Time magazine reports that contaminated food causes 5,000 deaths and 325,000 hospitalizations each year. Unsafe food does not only put health and lives at risk; it undermines confidence across the board and poses a real threat to Americans’ trust in our food industry. And that lack of trust is harmful to both families’ peace of mind and the food industry’s economic future. So it is in the interest of consumers and industry alike to see safety regulations faithfully enforced.
“This bill speeds up the inspection schedule, ensuring that the FDA checks up on high-risk food facilities every six to 12 months, and on lower-risk facilities at least once every 18 months to three years. It requires all food facilities operating in the U.S. or exporting to the U.S. to develop and submit food safety plans. It strengthens safeguards against unsafe imported food products. And it provides for a faster, more effective FDA response in case we do see a food emergency: with an up-to-date registry of food facilities, better traceability of contaminated food, and stronger authority to quarantine and recall dangerous products, the FDA will be empowered to take quick action that can nip outbreaks in the bud and save lives.
“These steps, and more, combine to make this what many have called the most sweeping reform of food safety laws in 50 years. One only needs to watch the news to see that this reform is highly needed.”