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Marler Blog

Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

A Single Food Safety Agency – Has Its Time Come?

I listened in on the press conference today held by U.S. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) who today introduced the Safe Food Act of 2015, which would create a single, independent food safety agency.

Currently food safety oversight is split up among 15 different agencies, resulting in a patchwork where no single voice guides industry, retailers and consumers. Durbin and DeLauro introduced similar legislation in 1999, 2004, 2005 and 2007.

“The fragmented nature of our food safety system has left us more vulnerable to the risk of foodborne illness. It has too often forced citizens to go it alone in the case of outbreak,” said Durbin. “The Safe Food Act that Congresswoman DeLauro and I are introducing today would transfer and consolidate food safety authorities for inspections, enforcement, labeling, and research into a single food safety agency. That would allow us to prioritize system-wide food safety goals and targets. It would also help families navigate the differing federal, state, and local food safety agencies to get the answers they deserve.”

“Government has a moral responsibility to keep our families safe from foodborne illness,” said DeLauro. “One reason we have not been able to do so is that our food safety system is hopelessly fragmented and outdated. Consequently, lives are unnecessarily put at risk and the need for reform becomes more urgent. I am proud to join Senator Durbin in introducing this bill to ensure that we have a single person being held accountable for food safety, research, prevention, inspections, investigations and labeling. We need a commonsense, 21st century way of ensuring food safety and a single food safety agency is it.”

The Safe Food Act would:

· Transfer and consolidate food safety authorities for inspections, enforcement and labeling into a single food safety agency

· Provide authority to require the recall of unsafe food

· Require risk assessments and preventive control plans to reduce adulteration

· Authorize enforcement actions to strengthen contaminant performance standards

· Improve foreign food import inspections

· Require full food traceability to better identify sources of outbreaks

Perhaps I should apply for the first head of this new agency?