Hearing of the House Subcommittee on Health of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce - H.R. 3610, The Food and Drug Import Saftey Act
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REP. JIM MATHESON (D-UT): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Clearly this is an issue of great concern. We want to insure the integrity of our food supply and I think it's a complicated issue and to resolve it I think that a good bipartisan effort is the best way to go about it and I think this committee can really step up to the plate in that regard.
I think we need to take a look at this in the context of the global marketplace and we need to look at the whole chain -- supply chain, if you will. I would suggest that you could juxtapose this issue with the toy safety discussions also going on in another subcommittee.
In that case, we're looking more at the manufacturing end; in this case I'm hearing a lot about looking at this end of the equation where we look at food when it gets to this country. I'd suggest we need more a blended approach and we ought to be looking at the supply chain in general about where we can make the most rational and efficient efforts to ensure the integrity of the food supply.
And this discussion seems to be a lot about imported food, but we also of course should not forget our domestic production as well and make sure that food can be assumed to be safe when it reaches our family dinner table.
There are two issues I just want to raise briefly in this opening statement of concern to me that I think we need to keep in mind as we look at this broad issue of food safety.
The first has to do with impacts on our relationships with our trading partners. I am concerned that this effort at addressing food safety concerns could invite a more protectionist agenda than I think would be appropriate or good for this country. And I think, as we look at this issue, we ought to make sure that that does not happen.
I think we should recognize that there -- and we should ask questions about how the existing WTO agreement that talks about the application of sanitary and phytosanitary measures -- how that does work and if there are issues that we ought to think about to make it work better.
But I think we should recognize we're in a global marketplace and we should try to maintain the integrity of that global marketplace.
Second issue I want to raise that we ought to be looking at has to do with comments that FDA provided during the appropriations -- agriculture appropriations subcommittee hearing on food safety. FDA issued some concerns about imported aquaculture products -- seafood products -- and the issue of antibiotic resistance based on antibiotics being used with the seafood product.
I think that's a very important issue. When it comes to the issue of the development of antibiotic-resistant diseases, I plan on introducing legislation this week, with my colleague Representative Ferguson, which seeks to address this issue about how this country can better position itself for trying to develop new antibiotics that can take on these organisms that are currently resistant to current antibiotics.
And I think that's an emerging public health concern, and it turns out that even in this food safety discussion that public health concern has emerged as well.
So those are just two quick issues that I think we also ought to keep in mind as we look at this broad food safety issue.
With that, I'll yield back, Mr. Chairman.
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