patrick-leahy.jpgThe U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved legislation fast-tracked by chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., to strengthen criminal penalties for food safety violators, in addition to a list of seven federal judicial nominees, some of whom have faced long delays in the Senate.  Committee members unanimously cleared S. 3767, the Food Safety Accountability Act, which is sponsored by Leahy along with Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Al Franken, D-Minn.; Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; and Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

If passed, the bill would amend Chapter 47 of U.S. Code Title 18 to make it a crime for any individual to knowingly introduce or deliver into interstate commerce any tainted food, or to contaminate or mislabel any food in the U.S. supply chain.  Current law caps penalties for the knowing distribution of adulterated food at the misdemeanor level, and the U.S. Sentencing Commission has found that such violations do not typically result in jail time, Leahy said.  The fines and recalls that result from criminal violations under the current law are not providing an effective deterrent to bad actors, the senator added.  Any individual caught breaking the proposed law would face a fine and prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Now, if prosecutors will actually use it and put some of these people in jail