Durbin, Delauro: Obama Budget Takes Step Toward Single Food Safety Agency
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) today released the following statement after learning that President Obama’s 2016 Budget includes a proposal to consolidate food safety functions in an effort to begin reforming the federal food safety system.
“President Obama’s 2016 Budget proposal takes an historic step toward improving the safety and security of our nation’s food system,” said Durbin. “The Budget recommends the consolidation of food safety functions - a move that is consistent with the goals of the Safe Food Act of 2015 which we introduced last week. It’s time Congress recognized that our food safety system is fragmented, outdated and in desperate need of repair. With the support of the President, we need to give this important system a 21st century make-over by consolidating accountability for food safety standards and compliance.”
“American families deserve the security of knowing the food on their table is safe. Our current food safety system is hopelessly fragmented and outdated, consequently putting lives at unnecessary risk. Putting our food safety functions under HHS is a step that I first suggested in 2007; I am glad the Administration has proposed taking this action in their FY16 budget. Ensuring we have one agency with a singular focus on--and sufficient resources for--the safety of our food supply cannot wait any longer,” said DeLauro.
Last week, Durbin and DeLauro introduced the Safe Food Act of 2015, which would create a single, independent food safety agency. Currently food safety oversight is split up among 15 different agencies, resulting in a patchwork where no single voice guides industry, retailers and consumers. Durbin and DeLauro introduced similar legislation in 1999, 2004, 2005 and 2007.
The Durbin-DeLauro Safe Food Act would:
- Transfer and consolidate food safety authorities for inspections, enforcement and labeling into a single food safety agency
- Provide authority to require the recall of unsafe food
- Require risk assessments and preventive control plans to reduce adulteration
- Authorize enforcement actions to strengthen contaminant performance standards
- Improve foreign food import inspections
- Require full food traceability to better identify sources of outbreaks
Senate cosponsors of the Safe Food Act include U.S. Senators Dianna Feinstein (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Cosponsors in the House of Representatives include Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), James Langevin (D-RI), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Judy Chu (D-CA) and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).
DeLauro and Durbin recently wrote an op-ed about the imperative for such legislation. DeLauro is a former chairwoman, and currently a senior member, of the subcommittee responsible for funding the United States Department of Agriculture, and the Food and Drug Administration. Durbin is the Senate’s Assistant Democratic Leader and a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
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