Bill to establish single food-safety agency would help prevent food-borne

WASHINGTON - The Safe Food Act of 2001, introduced last Thursday by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and three co-sponsors, would better protect consumers by consolidating today’s fragmented food-safety system, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). In testimony today before the Senate Committee on Government Affairs’ Subcommittee on Oversight of Government, CSPI stated that the Durbin bill (S. 1501) also would benefit the food industry by bolstering consumer confidence in the safety of the food supply.

     “The patchwork of nine federal regulatory agencies is ill-prepared to reduce the millions of food-borne illnesses that Americans suffer each year, much less to deal with threats of intentional food contamination,” said Michael F. Jacobson, CSPI executive director.

     The Safe Food Act of 2001 would consolidate the activities of various federal agencies - including the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, and the Commerce Department’s National Marine Fisheries Service - each responsible for just a portion of the nation’s food supply.

     “We can no longer afford the gaps, inefficiencies, and inconsistencies inherent in the current, fragmented food-safety system,” Jacobson said.