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A New Direction for American Families: Safer Toys, Safer Foods, Safer Medicine

The New Direction Congress is responding to reports that American families and children are at risk because of lead paint in imported toys, recalls in faulty products, unsafe food, and questionable medicines.   

We are making certain that families have safe drugs, safe toys, safe food, by:

Enacting the most sweeping drug safety legislation in decades. According to Consumers Union, under the law, the FDA 'will begin to have the tools and resources to protect the public from unsafe medications.'
Ensuring that parents have confidence when they purchase toys or products for their children.  In the coming weeks, the House will take action on wide-ranging toy and child product safety legislation, the Comprehensive Consumer Product Safety Bill, to:
  • Ban lead from children's products and paint        
  • Require mandatory testing of children's products by independent  third-party labs        
  • Enhance the recall authority of the Consumer Product Safety  Commission, to ensure that consumers learn about recalls more effectively and  more quickly       
  • Provide the Consumer Product Safety Commission with  significantly greater resources to protect America's consumers, including  improved testing and research facilities       
  • Ban unsafe and untested imported children's products         
Improving the safety of imported food and drugs, to: 
  • Create an effective warning and recall system for contaminated  food       
  • Increase the civil monetary penalties for manufacturers and  importers who break the rules        
  • Establish a more reliable food and drug import inspection system,  including research on enhanced testing techniques and sampling methods     


Over  the summer, more than 20 million toys manufactured in China were  recalled because of various hazards. USA Today recently described the Consumer  Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which is charged with regulating children's  toys, as 'tragically ineffective.' The agency has lost 15 percent of its workforce since 2004 and employs only 420 people.  Even the Commission's acting Director Nancy Nord has complained that there is only one 'lonely' toy tester. [WSJ, 9/13/07]

The 110th Congress is committed to  ensuring that the products our children use are safe and reliable:   


The House Energy and  Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection has held a number of  hearings addressing the issue of children's product safety, including on  protecting children from lead-tainted imports.
Mattel CEO Bob Eckert told the House Energy and Commerce  Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection that some of the 20.5  million toys recalled by his company this year contained nearly 200 times the  legal amount of lead. [CNN, 8/15/07; CNN,  9/20/07]   

The House Ways and Means Trade and Oversight  Subcommittees held a joint hearing on October 4th, on the ability of the federal regulators to  identify and take action to prohibit the import of unsafe food and consumer  products.

Recent recalls of tainted  pet food, toothpaste, and antibiotic-laden seafood have shaken Americans'  confidence in the safety of the consumer goods on the shelves of our retail  stores.   
Witnesses testified about the lack of an effective system to  ensure that Americans hear about recalled or dangerous products.    


  • Increase significantly the civil penalties the Consumer Product  Safety Commission can levy (HR 2747, Rep. Rush) - Passed 10/9/07       
  • Mandate product registration for nursery items (HR 1699, Rep.  Schakowsky) - Passed 10/9/07       
  • Require a uniform safety cap for gasoline containers (HR 814,  Rep. Dennis Moore) - Passed 10/9/07       
  • Increase the safety of swimming pools and spas (HR 1721, Rep.  Wasserman Schultz) - Passed 10/9/07       
  • FY 2008 Financial Services Appropriations Bill - Increased  funding for the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) by 6.6 percent and  increases the number of agency employees by 5 percent. - Passed 6/28/07   


Recalls  this past year ranging from bagged spinach and peanut butter to contaminated  wheat flour from China  have brought a measure of fear to the kitchen table.  Less  than 1 percent of our food imports are inspected currently--ten times less  than in the 1970s--and an even smaller percentage undergoes actual testing.

The  110th Congress is committed to bringing accountability and  responsibility back to the food safety system:


The House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations  Subcommittee has held hearings focused on food safety for people  and pets.

Dr. David Kessler, dean of University of California San  Francisco School of Medicine, testified about our 'broken' food safety system.  Dr. Kessler testified: 'We have no structure for preventing food-borne illness  in this country. The reality is that there is currently no mandate, no  leadership, no resources, nor scientific research base for prevention of food  safety problems.' [Testimony, 5/2/07]    

The  House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee has also held  hearings on food safety issues this year. 

At an Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee hearing, 'former  FDA officials blamed the agency's middle and upper management for its  unwillingness to change. Benjamin England, a former regulatory counsel and  17-year veteran at the FDA, said the agency failed to act on more than 100  proposals for change, and he described the current food-import system as  outdated, inadequate and wasteful.' [Wall Street Journal, 9/26/07]    

The  House Homeland Security Emerging Threats,  Cybersecurity, and Science and Technology Subcommittee held a hearing on July  24th to investigate the federal government's efforts to protect the  food supply chain.


  • FY 2008 Agriculture Appropriations bill - Increased funding for the food safety programs of the Food and Drug  Administration by 10.2 percent; also implemented mandatory country-of-origin  labeling requirements for meat. (HR 3161) - Passed  8/2/07     


Recent setbacks in drug safety have left American  consumers with less confidence in the medications they take themselves and  provide their families. Just this month, 14  different types of infant cold medication (for children under 2 years old) were  pulled off the shelves due to health concerns, side effects and other dangers  to children.

Fourteen nonprofit health care and patient advocacy  groups recently lauded the new law, the Food and Drug Administration Amendments  Act of 2007, as 'an essential and significant first step toward restoring the  safety of U.S.  patients and consumers and reestablishing the FDA's authority, commitment and  credibility to protect the public health.'

The 110th Congress is committed to  ensuring the safety of drugs and medicines:


The House Oversight and  Government Reform Committee held a hearing on Avandia, a diabetes drug taken by more than 1  million Americans, about which new safety concerns have just been raised. 

Dr. John B. Buse, a medical researcher, testified before the  House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that a top officer with  SmithKlineBeecham, now GlaxoSmithKline, called him a 'liar' and threatened him  with a lawsuit after Dr. Buse questioned the safety of the diabetes drug  Avandia and pointed to evidence of increased risk of heart attack and chest  pain back in 1999. [New York Times, 6/7/07]       

The  House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee has held several  hearings focusing on prescription drug and medical device safety issues,  including on pediatric medicines.


  • Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007 - Includes  the most sweeping drug safety provisions  in decades, including creating a new FDA program to monitor the safety of  drugs after they are on the market; significantly increasing the penalties for  drug companies that violate safety standards measures; requiring results from  most clinical drug trials be made public on the Internet; and imposing  penalties for false or misleading advertising of prescription drugs. (HR 3580,  Rep. John Dingell) - Signed into law  9/27/07(P.L. 110-85)       
  • FY 2008 Agriculture Appropriations Bill - Increased funding for the drug safety activities of the Food and  Drug Administration by 10.6 percent, allowing for additional staff and other  resources.  Passed 8/2/07     

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