Yesterday, a draft of the new Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 was released. Jill Richardson has the details of what it does & doesn’t do:
- Gives the FDA mandatory recall authority.
- Requires all food producers to register with the FDA & pay a registration fee of $1,000. It applies to both US and foreign producers and will fund the FDA’s activities.
- Requires companies to prepare food safety plans. The FDA can audit them and can specify minimum requirements.
- The FDA is required to issue food safety regulations for production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables. This worries me A LOT. The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement provided "safety" guidelines for leafy greens that were absolutely idiotic and harmful. That is what we DON’T want to see happen here. However, that part will be hammered out by the FDA, not by Congress. It’s just something to pay attention to for the future.
- Inspections: High risk facilities must be inspected every 6-18 mos. Lower risk facilities can be inspected every 18 mos to 3 years. Warehouses must be inspected every 3-4 years.
FDA would be required to issue regulations that require fod producers, manufacturers, processors, transporter, or holders to maintain the full pedigree of the origin and previous distribution history of the food and to link that history with the subsequent distribution history of the food; and to establish an interoperable record to ensure fast and efficient traceback (current law permits facilities to hold a record in any format – paper or electronic – making efficient tracing of foods difficult for FDA). Prior to issuing such regulations, FDA would be required to conduct a feasibility study, public meetings, and a pilot project.
Farms that sell directly to consumers or restaurants are exempted from this provision.
- The bill does NOT include: A requirement that companies test for pathogens and report positive results to the FDA. THIS SHOULD BE ADDED to the bill, if we’re going to have a strong and effective bill
The Grocery Manufacturers Association is going to be lobbying hard to narrow the bill, complaining that the flat $1000 fee on registrants is an undue burden. If they want to propose weighting the fee based on the size of the company, I’m all in favor.
Kraft and Kellogg Co. have opposed such legislation in the past, but have had a "philosophical shift" after contaminated peanut butter killed 9 people cost Kellogg $70 million.
As Jill notes, it would be great to have a champion on the Energy & Commerce committee willing to fight for pathogens testing. If your congressperson is on the committee, please give ’em a call and ask for their help.