Food Safety Bill Passes House


This afternoon, the House passed the Food Safety Enhancement Act by a vote of 283-142 to fundamentally change the way we protect the safety of our food supply. Each year, 76 million Americans are sickened from consuming contaminated food and 5,000 of these people die. In just the last few years, there has been a string of food-borne illness outbreaks in foods consumed by millions of Americans each day — from spinach to peppers to peanuts, pistachios and cookie dough. This recent series of outbreaks of food-borne illnesses has demonstrated that they are not random, unpreventable occurrences, but are due to widespread problems with our current food safety system.

The Food Safety Enhancement Act gives new enforcement tools and funding to the FDA to better ensure food safety including more frequent inspection of food processing facilities, the development of a food trace-back system to pinpoint the source of food-borne illnesses, and enhanced powers to ensure that imported foods are safe. Learn more about the bill>>

Rules Chair Louis Slaughter (D-NY):

Rep. John Dingell (D-MI):

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT):

Rep. David Scott (D-GA):

Speaker Pelosi:

All parents deserve to have confidence that the food they are feeding their children is safe. Yet recent outbreaks of food-borne illness have proven that there are widespread problems with our current food safety system, as we rely on a more global and industrialized food supply.

Every year, 76 million Americans are sickened from consuming contaminated food and 5,000 of these people die. In just the last few years, there have been numerous outbreaks of dangerous infections in common foods — from spinach and tomatoes, to peanut butter and ground beef.

This bipartisan, landmark bill will fundamentally change the way we protect public health against such outbreaks and update our federal food safety laws to keep pace with the changes in our food production and processing methods. It provides the FDA better access to the records of food producers and manufacturers, without having to wait for an outbreak of food-borne illness. And it strengthens penalties imposed on food facilities that fail to comply with safety requirements.

American families have felt great urgency about the need to strengthen food safety standards. Congress has responded quickly with strong legislation that will protect lives and prevent illness.

President Obama:

Today the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, legislation that will raise food safety standards, allow the FDA to issue mandatory recalls of harmful products, and enhance our oversight of imported food.

This action represents a major step forward in modernizing our food safety system and protecting Americans from foodborne illness. Those are the goals of the Food Safety Working Group I convened in March and charged with making recommendations to improve our food safety system. And that is why we announced a new rule to control Salmonella contamination in eggs and are working to reduce the presence of harmful pathogens such as E. coli in meat and produce; strengthen our capacity to trace the source of outbreaks; and update our emergency operations procedures.

I commend the House of Representatives for its action today and look forward to working with the Senate to enact critical food safety legislation.

See previous posts on the Gavel on this bill>>

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