A group of US senators has announced a bill to give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enhanced responsibility to ensure the nationâ€™s <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/food_poisoning">food safety, wrote CBS News.
The bill would provide the FDA with mandatory recall authority, mandate the agency increase its frequency of food facility inspections, better enable the hiring of new safety inspectors, and enable the FDA access to food producer records, said CBS News.
Two items remain open and were not addressed in the emerging measure, said CBS News: California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein requested a ban on the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in food and containers and the exemption for small farmers and food producers from some of the regulations, explained CBS News.
Once the bill reaches the floor, said Feinstein, she will present an amendment to restrict BPA use, said CBS News. BPA is a controversial polycarbonate plastic used in many consumer products. Hundreds of studies have linked BPA to adverse health reactions.
“With this announcement today, we aim to not just patch and mend our fragmented food safety system, we hope to reinforce the infrastructure, close the gaps and create a systematic, risk-based and balanced approach to food safety in the United States,” said the bipartisan group of senatorsâ€”including Democratic senators Tom Harkin of Iowa, Richard Durbin of Illinois, Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Republican senators Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and Richard Burr of North Carolinaâ€”said jointly, quoted CBS News. “We look forward to working with our respective leaderships to take up this bipartisan legislation as soon as possible,” the group added.
The bill includes, in part, changes and additions surrounding hazard analysis and preventative controls; imported foods and foreign suppliers; inspections; mandatory recall authority; regulatory balance, for instance concerning training; surveillance; traceback and the establishment of a pilot traceback project; and increased resourcing and funding, said CBS News.
We recently wrote that a report issued by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council stated that the FDA needs to step up food safety operations, according to a prior Associated Press (AP) article. The report faulted the agencyâ€™s efficiency, saying it needs to use its limited funds to prevent food borne illness outbreaks and that the FDA does not have what it takes to protect consumers and has a tendency to be reactive, not preventative. The report suggests the agency concentrate on outbreak prevention in the riskiest foods and not case-by-case responses, wrote the AP.
The FDA is responsible for the safety of most of the nationâ€™s food supplyâ€”some 80 percentâ€”such as seafood, dairy, and produce as well as having oversight for over 150,000 food facilities, over one million restaurants and food establishments, and over two million farms, according to the AP, previously.