Cookie Dough is Last Straw for Congress
Food Safety Reform Legislation Passes House, Heads to Senate
July 30, 2009
WASHINGTON—After years of outbreaks of foodborne illness connected to everything from peanuts to peppers to pet food, and most recently, cookie dough, legislation to reform the nation's food safety system has passed the House of Representatives and is headed to the Senate. The nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest hailed the House passage of the Food Safety Enhancement Act as an urgently needed step to help restore Americans' confidence in the food supply.
Under the current system, food manufacturing facilities might be visited by an inspector from the Food and Drug Administration only once every five or 10 years. The bill that passed the House today increases food inspections dramatically: every six to 12 months for high risk facilities; every 18 months to three years for low-risk facilities; and every five years for warehouses. The bill requires companies to identify hazards particular to the foods they produce, and to implement written food safety plans to control those hazards. The bill also gives the FDA authority to issue mandatory recalls of contaminated foods and provides for tougher penalties for negligent processors.
"Consumers want safe foods, and we are tired of having to ask whether the healthy foods we're buying for our families are contaminated with deadly bacteria," said CSPI food safety director Caroline Smith DeWaal. "FDA has been operating under the same law for 70 years and can do little more than respond to outbreaks after the fact. This bill gives the FDA more authority and real enforcement teeth to help prevent more outbreaks, illnesses, and deaths."
The bill is widely supported by a diverse coalition of consumer and health groups and is expected to come before the Senate in the fall.