10/22/2009 - Legislation granting the Food and Drug Administration new powers to oversee the nation's food supply has elbowed its way onto Congress' crammed calendar with bipartisan support and rare agreement between consumer groups and an industry stung by product recalls.
The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), would require the FDA to step up inspections of food facilities and to issue new rules to improve the quality of imported food and to combat contaminants in fresh produce. The measure also would give the agency authority to recall products on its own, instead of relying on industry cooperation.
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The reason for a sense of urgency is evident from opinion polls. A July survey for the Pew Charitable Trusts found that nearly 90% of voters favored new food safety measures similar to those found in Durbin's bill and a slightly more expansive proposal that the House passed over the summer.
"There's broad public support. It would be a quick win for both parties," said Erik Olson, director of chemical and food safety programs in [the Pew Health Group]. "This is a rare situation where the industry is shoulder to shoulder with consumers."
Read the full article Bill Giving FDA New Powers to Oversee Food Supply Has Wide Support on the Los Angeles Times' Web site.