Durbin Food Safety Bill Clears Senate Committee

Bipartisan Legislation Moves to Senate Floor

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced today that his FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S.510) was unanimously approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) and now moves to the full Senate for consideration. Durbin’s bill will give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) new authorities, tools and resources to comprehensively reform the nation’s food safety systems.


“Every year, 76 million Americans suffer from a preventable food-borne illness. Of those, 325,000 are hospitalized and 5,000 will die because our outdated, under-funded and overwhelmed food safety system failed to ensure that the food they ate was safe,” Senator Durbin said. “Enough is enough. My bipartisan bill will update our food safety laws; improve the FDA’s ability to prevent food-borne illness outbreaks and ensure FDA responds quickly and effectively when outbreaks do occur. I commend Senator Harkin, Senator Enzi and the entire HELP Committee for their hard work and consideration and I hope to quickly bring this much-needed bill to the floor.”


Durbin’s bill enjoys the support of both industry and consumer groups, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and a bipartisan coalition of Senators. Cosponsors include Senators Gregg (R-NH), Harkin (D-IA), Enzi (R-WY), Dodd (D-CT), Burr (R-NC), Klobuchar (D-MN), Alexander (R-TN), Burris (D-IL), Chambliss (R-GA) and Hatch (R-UT).


The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act would place more emphasis on prevention of food borne illness, and give FDA new, modern authorities to address food safety problems.


Highlights of the bill include:


• Hazard analysis and preventive controls: Requires all facilities that manufacture, process, pack or hold food to have in place risk-based preventive control plans to address identified hazards and prevent adulteration, and gives FDA access to these plans and relevant documentation. These requirements do not apply to restaurants or most farms.



• Imports: Requires importers to verify the safety of foreign suppliers and imported food. Allows FDA to require certification for high-risk foods, and to deny entry to a food that lacks certification or that is from a foreign facility that has refused U.S. inspectors. Creates a voluntary qualified importer program in which importers with a certification of safety for their foreign supplier can pay a user-free for expedited entry into the U.S.


• Inspection: Requires FDA to inspect all food facilities more frequently, including inspections of high-risk facilities at least once a year and inspections of other facilities at least once every four years.


• Mandatory Recall: Gives FDA the authority to order a mandatory recall of a food product if the food will cause serious adverse health consequences or death and a company had failed to voluntarily recall the product upon FDA’s request.


• Administrative Detention: Gives FDA the authority to administratively detain any food that is misbranded or adulterated under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.


• Increases FDA Resources: Increases funding for FDA’s food safety activities through increased appropriations and targeted fees for food facility reinspection, food recalls, and the voluntary qualified importer program.


The bill is supported by several organizations including the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Consumer Federation of America, the Grocery Manufacturers of America, the National Association of County and City Health Officials, the National Restaurant Association, Organic Trade Association, Council for Responsible Nutrition, American Feed Industry Association, American Frozen Food Institute, American Spice Trade Association, Center for Science and the Public Interest, Consumers Union, Food Marketing Institute and the Trust for America’s Health.