Senate Health Committee Acts to Improve Food Safety

Washington, D.C.
the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee unanimously
passed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which will now be sent to the
floor for consideration by the full Senate.  The legislation will increase
the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ability to ensure the safety of our
nation’s food supply.  Included in the bill are Merkley’s provisions to
improve traceability of contaminated processed foods and protect the organic
farming and sustainable agriculture industries.

“Parents should never have to worry whether the food they’re packing in their
kids’ lunches or putting on the dinner table is safe to eat,” said
Merkley.  “This is an important step forward in protecting our families
from food-borne illnesses while, at the same time, making sure that our small
farms and processors are not unnecessarily burdened by layers of regulation.”

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 will
strengthen the FDA’s ability to protect the nation’s food supply by enacting
comprehensive reforms to improve its capacity to detect and respond to
contamination outbreaks, provide food safety training for small farmers and
food processors, and enact strong preventive measures for food imports. 

Merkley’s provision to improve traceability of contaminated processed foods
will require the FDA to conduct a pilot project to find the best method to trace
contaminated processed food and report back to Congress with recommendations to
improve food safety.

In addition, the legislation included provisions Merkley wrote to ensure that
organic farmers are not subject to conflicting regulations that would harm
their businesses.  Merkley pushed for the provisions in a recent letter to
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chair Tom Harkin.  Read the
entire letter here