Another Food Safety Bill Will Likely Join the Crowd

October 15, 2007

Last week we reported on an influx of food safety bills that have been and that are planned for introduction in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.  The already crowded field became a little more congested when Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration Appropriations, announced her plans during a speech at George Washington University on FDA’s future to introduce her own bill, the Food Safety Modernization Act (“FSMA”).  A copy of Rep. DeLauro’s speech is available here.

FSMA appears to be the most ambitious food safety bill planned for introduction, as it would remove FDA’s jurisdiction over foods and create a new federal agency dedicated to regulating foods.  The new agency, dubbed the Food Safety Administration, would fall under the Department of Health and Human Services.  FDA would be renamed the Federal Drug and Device Administration.  The Food Safety Administration would be headed by a newly appointed Commissioner of Food Safety and Nutrition Policy. 

Rep. DeLauro has long been critical of the current regulatory structure, which places food safety in the hands of 15 different federal agencies.  She hopes that her bill, if enacted, would streamline food regulation, place greater emphasis on food safety, and allow the government to more effectively respond to emerging threats.  Rep. DeLauro currently plans to introduce FSMA in 2008 after several details are worked out; however, given the fact that 2008 is an election year, it seems unlikely that Congress will have the time to carefully consider and pass broad food safety legislation anytime soon.     

The recently-enacted FDA Amendments Act addresses some food safety issues (both human and pet food).  In particular, Title X of the new law creates a Reportable Food Registry under FDC Act § 417 for foods “for which there is a reasonable probability that the use of, or exposure to, such article of food will cause serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals,” and it requires FDA to develop a more efficient and effective system for communicating information during a food recall.  In addition, § 912 of the new law (i.e., “Prohibition against food to which drugs or biological products have been added”) may also create new hurdles for the development of functional food ingredients.

Categories: Foods