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Legislation Introduced for Single Food Safety Agency

Legislation would establish a single food safety agency, transferring authority out of FDA

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U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Chair of the House Appropriations Committee Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03) introduced the Food Safety Administration Act of 2022, legislation that would establish the Food Safety Administration, a single food safety agency responsible for ensuring the safety of the nation’s food supply.

This new agency would take over food safety responsibilities currently housed at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The legislation does not include the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“In recent years, FDA has been plagued by one failure after another — from a failure to properly recognize the dangers of prescription opioids, to a failure to protect children from e-cigarette products, to a failure to properly ensure the safety of our nation’s food supply,” said Durbin.

“The sad reality is that FDA seems unwilling or unable to use their authority to protect Americans from preventable illness and death. For that reason, Congresswoman DeLauro and I are introducing legislation to transfer all of FDA’s food responsibilities to a new agency that, we hope, will have more success in protecting the foods in our kids’ lunch boxes and on our dining room tables.”

48 million get sick from foodborne illness each year

The FDA regulates approximately 80% of the U.S.'s food supply, and consumers and industry depend on the FDA food program to perform its regulatory role effectively.

Despite increased authorities and funding, the agency has failed to make significant inroads in reducing rates of foodborne illness and death in the U.S.

About one in six Americans — or 48 million people — get sick from foodborne illness each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 128,000 Americans are hospitalized each year and 3,000 Americans die of foodborne diseases. This costs the U.S. more than $15.6 billion each year.

Americans deserve to know the food on their plates is safe to eat, said Blumenthal.

“By protecting consumers from foodborne illnesses and acting swiftly to respond to recalls, the Food Safety Administration will improve the safety of our nation’s vital food supply.

Food safety would be moved under HHS

The Food Safety Administration Act would establish the Food Safety Administration under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) by incorporating the existing food programs within FDA into this separate agency: the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), and the Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA). This agency would be led by a food safety expert confirmed by the Senate.

In addition to bringing focused leadership and more accountability, a unified structure and a full-time senior leader will strengthen oversight of the food supply and enhance the industry’s ability to operate effectively.

“Food safety is currently a second-class citizen at the Food and Drug Administration,” said DeLauro.

“Right now, there are no food policy experts in charge of food safety at the FDA," continued said DeLauro. "That is unacceptable and contributes to a string of product contaminations and subsequent recalls that disrupt the supply chain, contribute to rising prices, and in many cases, result in consumer illness and death."

The legislation is endorsed by Center for Food Safety, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Reports, Defend Our Health, Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, Healthy Babies Bright Futures, STOP Foodborne Illness, Center for Environmental Health, and Consumer Federation of America.

You can find the bill text here and a fact sheet here.

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