September 14, 2004
President George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to urge you to act quickly and effectively to protect the nation's food supply from the threat of a bioterrorist attack.
If terrorists succeed in contaminating food with a bioterrorist agent such as anthrax, the immediate priority would be to limit exposure by identifying the source of the contaminated food and where it had been distributed. This initial step could enable us to stop further distribution of the tainted food and even recall it, so that no further distribution takes placed.
For this reason, Congress included Section 306 in the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (Public L. 107-188), which authorizes the government to issue regulations requiring the food industry to maintain records for the Food and Drug Administration to trace contaminated food to its source and to each point of distribution to consumers.
In addition, Section 306 required the Administration to issue final regulations no later than December 12, 2003. It is now 9 months after that date, and the Administration has not yet issued the final regulations.
The food industry opposes the record-keeping requirement and has filed more than 100 objections to the proposed rule. In fact, the industry had strongly opposed Section 306 when Congress acted on the legislation.
It is surprising that the Administration is delaying the implementation of a provision that is so clearly critical for the protection of Americans against attempts by terrorists to tamper with the food supply. It is unacceptable to put higher priority on the profits of the food industry than national security.
We urge you to complete this rulemaking immediately, and to reject the efforts by the food industry to reduce or avoid this vital protection for American consumers.
Senator Edward M. Kennedy
Senator Hillary Clinton
Senator Richard J. Durbin