Food Safety News reports that Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) are introducing a bill in the House of Representatives that would give the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) the authority to declare any foodborne pathogen an adulterant and recall contaminated products.

The “Pathogen Reduction and Testing Reform Act” amends the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Inspection Act, and the Egg Products Inspection Act to create a clearer definition for an adulterant to include “a microbial pathogen, such as Campylobacter or Salmonella, that is resistant to not less than two critically important antibiotics for human medicine” and mandates that FSIS develop and implement stronger testing protocols to identify the adulterants.

“We need to make sure that USDA and the other agencies have the tools and the mandate to move rapidly on behalf of public health,” DeLauro said.

Although several strains of E. coli have been declared adulterants, along with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat products, FSIS has previously indicated that it does not have the authority to declare Salmonella an adulterant in cases such as raw poultry.

As I said to the Oregonian:

Bill Marler, a prominent food safety litigator, welcomed the bill but said it shouldn’t be necessary.

“There’s no question that if (the USDA) chose, especially with ill people repeatedly linked to a product, they have the authority to recall the product and shut these plants down without congressional approval.”

Food Safety News also reported in May that on the third anniversary of filing a petition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to have antibiotic-resistant Salmonella declared an adulterant, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is still waiting for a response.

On Wednesday, the consumer advocate group filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia asking the court to require USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to respond to its petition targeting Salmonella Heidelberg, Newport, Hadar and Typhimurium strains.