December 1, 2009
The undersigned members of the Make Our Food Safe Coalition urge you to work with Senate leadership to ensure that S.510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, is scheduled for floor consideration as soon as possible and before the end of the year. This bipartisan legislation, approved unanimously on November 18 by the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions, will enable the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to better ensure the safety of our nation’s food supply.
S.510 would refocus our food safety system on preventing illnesses and deaths from foodborne disease by giving FDA appropriate authorities to protect public health when foodborne illness outbreaks occur. In the past few years, foodborne disease outbreaks linked to FDA-regulated products such as spinach, peppers, peanut products and cookie dough have highlighted the need to bring our outdated food safety laws into the 21st century.
S. 510 would create a new, comprehensive system for preventing foodborne illnesses before they occur, rather than following a piecemeal approach that singles out specific foods, pathogens or industries. For this reason, we urge you to reject any effort to exempt any particular industry from the obligation to produce safe food or prevent the FDA from acting to protect the public against a specific pathogen.
It is worth noting that a number of changes have been made to S. 510 in committee; for example, an amendment was adopted that directs FDA to consider the impact on small and organic farms when developing produce safety standards. Should amendments be offered during floor consideration, we urge you to support important amendments that would strengthen and more closely align the bill with provisions on inspection and testing (including records access) in the House-passed bipartisan food safety bill, H.R. 2749. (See our accompanying fact sheet for more on our proposed amendments). The Senate should also consider an amendment that would address the problem of unsafe imported food by giving FDA the power to hold foreign governments or independent food safety certifiers accountable when they verify that foods being exported here meet U.S. standards for safety.
America needs strong food safety legislation to prevent the foodborne illness outbreaks and recalls that have left consumers uncertain about the safety of our food supply and have cost food producers millions of dollars. The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a strong food safety bill in July, and we urge the full Senate to approve S. 510, a measure with wide, bipartisan support, in the next few weeks. When the Senate passes this legislation, we will be one step closer to giving the FDA the tools and authorities necessary to better protect the public from foodborne disease.
American Public Health Association
Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention
Center for Science in the Public Interest
Consumer Federation of America
Food & Water Watch
Government Accountability Project
National Consumers League
Safe Tables Our Priority
The Pew Charitable Trusts
Trust for America’s Health