Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have reintroduced legislation to create a single, independent food safety agency. Originally introduced as the Safe Food Act of 2015, the bill establishes the Food Safety Administration (FSA) as an independent agency to administer and enforce food safety laws. It would transfer the functions of specified federal agencies that relate to the administration or enforcement of food safety laws to the FSA.
As stated in the 2015 bill, the duties of the FSA would be to:
- Promulgate regulations to protect the food supply from contamination.
- Implement federal food safety inspection, labeling, enforcement, and research efforts to protect the public health.
- Develop consistent and science-based standards for safe food.
- Prioritize federal food safety efforts and deployment of resources to achieve the greatest benefit in reducing foodborne illness.
- Administer a national food safety program based on an analysis of the hazards associated with different foods and the processing of different foods.
- Require that all food and feed facilities register before operation or importation of food, feed, or ingredients.
- Establish an accreditation system for foreign governments seeking to certify food for importation to the united states.
- Establish requirements for tracing food and animals from point of origin to retail sale.
- Establish and administer a food safety technology program to foster innovations with the potential to improve food safety.
- Maintain or access an active surveillance system of food and epidemiological evidence.
- Establish a sampling system to monitor contaminants in food.
- Rank categories of food based on their health hazard.
- Establish a national public education campaign on food safety.
- Conduct research relating to food safety.
The bill also includes provisions regarding prohibited acts, recall authority, penalties for violations of food safety laws, whistle-blower protection, and civil actions.
On June 20, DeLauro held a Congressional Food Safety Caucus briefing with the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Consumer Federation of America on the state of food safety in America and the urgency of creating a single food safety agency.
On introducing the bill with Durbin said, “For consumers and businesses alike, food safety is a problem we must be focused on addressing. One problem in particular that I believe demands our attention is how hopelessly fragmented and outdated our food safety system is.” In creating a single, independent food safety agency, she said, “Our bill ensures we have a single agency accountable for food safety, research, prevention, inspections, investigations, and labeling. We need a commonsense, 21st century way of ensuring food safety and a single food safety agency is it.”
Supporting the initiative, DeLauro released an Overview of Food Safety in the United States at the Food Safety Caucus briefing finding that federal food safety oversight is fragmented; food outbreaks and foodborne illnesses have increased; and FDA inspections of imported food have decreased.