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The Center for Science in the Public Interest applauded the bipartisan FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which it said would help refocus the Food and Drug Administration on preventing, rather than just reacting to, food-borne disease outbreaks.
The bill would require domestic and foreign food companies to assess potential hazards, develop food safety plans, and take steps to prevent contaminated foods from being marketed. It also would require FDA to issue regulations for ensuring safer fresh produce, which are reforms that CSPI said it identified as being essential to reforming the nation's food safety system in a white paper, "Building a Modern Food Safety System for FDA Regulated Foods."
According to CSPI, the bill could be further strengthened by modernizing FDA's outdated 1938 enforcement tools with stronger civil penalties, better traceability and oversight, and broader recall authority. The advocacy organization said the bill also needs to provide for new resources to implement these programs and hire more inspectors at the FDA.
"Passage of comprehensive legislation to modernize FDA's food safety authorities this year would be an important step to modernizing our nation's food safety system," said the group. "It is only the first step however. In the next administration, Congress should enact legislation that will bring our entire food regulatory system into the 21st century by creating a unified food agency with a single leader and a firm budgetary foundation. The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act is an important step towards this goal."