WASHINGTON, D.C. — Shelley A. Hearne, managing director of the Pew Health Group, issued the following statement commending the passage of food safety legislation:
“Congress and President Obama should be applauded for enacting historic food safety legislation that will provide the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with improved authorities to oversee the safety of the nation's food supply and prevent foodborne illness. This reform is the first major update to the law in over 70 years.
“Americans sitting at their dinner tables should have greater confidence that their food will be safe as this long-overdue law is put into place. Preventable foodborne illness sickens millions and kills thousands of Americans every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Disease outbreaks from pathogens in FDA-regulated products such as eggs, produce, peanut products and many processed foods illustrate the need to update government safety oversight of both domestically-produced and imported foods.
“Measures in the legislation will strengthen safety standards for food facilities and fresh produce, improve inspection requirements, help limit the dangers in foods that come from outside our borders and provide the FDA with the power to issue a mandatory recall of contaminated food, among other authorities. This is crucial, because the FDA is responsible for the safety of 80 percent of the nation's food supply.
“We would like to thank the leaders of this historic bipartisan effort – Reps. John Dingell (D-MI) and Henry Waxman (D-CA), as well as Sens. Richard Durbin (D-IL), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Michael Enzi (R-WY), Richard Burr (R-NC), Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Judd Gregg (R-NH).
“Without the tireless work of our colleagues in the Make Our Food Safe coalition – particularly the advocates who have been personally impacted by foodborne illness – this legislation would never have been enacted. In addition, we would like to note the support of our industry allies, particularly the Grocery Manufacturers Association, who helped make sure the legislation reached the president's desk.
“Again, we would like to applaud the president today for signing food safety legislation and sending a message that Americans should be able to trust that the food they eat and feed their families is safe.”