Food Safety Enhancement Act increases inspections

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food-safety-bell-peppersCongresswoman Laura Richardson hailed passage last week of the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 (H.R. 2749), legislation that will grant the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority and long needed resources to prevent food-borne illnesses from occurring and the tools to respond if they do. The legislation also increases the food industry’s responsibility for overseeing the safety of products and provides the FDA with new and enhanced enforcement to hold them accountable when they fail.

“As our food supply becomes more global and our farming more industrialized, food-borne illnesses are on the rise,” Congresswoman Richardson stated. “By increasing and expanding the FDA’s authority, this legislation will help us give consumers peace of mind once again that the food they buy and feed their families will be properly grown, maintained, processed and delivered to their local stores.”

While many Americans assume our food supply is among the safest in the world, public health officials estimate that every year about 76 million people in the United States become sick, and 5,000 of them die, from food-borne illnesses. Since just 2006, we’ve seen numerous outbreaks of dangerous infections in common foods – from spinach and tomatoes, to peanut butter and ground beef. “This legislation will minimize outbreaks and update our federal food safety laws to keep pace with the changes in our food production and processing methods,” Congresswoman Richardson noted.

The Food Safety Enhancement Act increases the number and scope of inspections for food production facilities and enhances the safety of foreign food imports. It requires the FDA to issue standards for ensuring the safe production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables, and strengthens penalties on food facilities that fail to comply with safety requirements.

This legislation strengthens the FDA with the authority to issue mandatory recalls of tainted foods and remove these products from the market safely and efficiently. It also significantly expands the FDA’s ability to rapidly identify and trace the history of a tainted food product in the event of an illness outbreak.

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