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Kennedy And Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Food Saftey Amendment

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC


Today, Senator Edward M. Kennedy and several other Senators introduced a bipartisan measure designed to address the concerns surrounding the nation's food safety system.

Senator Kennedy said, "This bipartisan amendment is an important first step in a comprehensive response to the scandalous failures of the nation's food safety system. Our proposal strengthens surveillance, improves communication with the public about contaminated foods, establishes strong new quality standards for pet food, and enhances oversight of food importers. American families deserve the assurance that the food they give to their families and feed to their pets is safe and pure. This legislation helps make that promise a reality."

**Below is a summary of the amendment

Human and Pet Food Safety Amendment
Prescription Drug User Fee Amendments of 2007

This amendment is designed to close some of the gaps in the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) food safety system that have been identified following the recent recalls of spinach, peanut butter, and pet food.

To ensure the safety of human and pet food

Section 1. Findings
States the importance of the food safety system, the increasing volume of imported food, and the decreasing number of full-time equivalent FDA inspectors.

Section 2. Ensuring the Safety of Pet Food
Requires the FDA to set processing and ingredient standards for pet food and to update the labeling standards for pet food including nutritional and ingredient information. The provision would require FDA to set these standards in consultation with relevant stakeholders including the veterinarian medical associations, animal health organizations, pet food manufactures and the American Association of Feed Control.

The section also directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish an enhanced system capable of detecting pet food contamination and outbreaks of pet illness and death. This provision would to the extent appropriate be modeled on the existing human food contamination and detection infrastructure.

Section 3. Efficient and Effective Communications During a Recall
The provision requires the FDA to work to develop efficient and effective communications plans to better coordinate with veterinarians and other relevant stakeholders during outbreaks of both pet and human food. Recall data would have to be consolidated into and presented in a searchable format so that the public could easily and rapidly determine if a product in question is subject to a recall.

Section 4. State and Federal Cooperation (Produce)
Directs the Secretary to work with States to collaborate on activities and programs that assist in improving the safety of raw agricultural commodities. The Secretary will share resources in this effort with States to improve State food programs and help States establish standards and procedures to ensure processed produce is safe for human consumption.

Section 5. Adulterated Food Registry
Requires the FDA to establish a registry to collect information on cases of potentially dangerous food adulteration or suspected adulteration to help improve risk-based surveillance of food safety and improve the speed with which consumers and firms are notified about adulterations. Importers and domestic processors and manufactures of food would have to submit information pertaining to actual or suspected adulteration of food. The submission would be made to the FDA for inclusion in a centralized database through a convenient electronic portal.
This section also clarifies that during inspections of facilities as part of an FDA investigation, inspectors have access to records for purposes of the investigation.

Section 6. Sense of the Senate
The Sense of the Senate expresses the need for greater resources, authorities and direction from Congress in regards to food safety, both domestic and international.

Section 7. Annual Report to Congress
Requires the Secretary of HHS to submit annual reports to Congress with improved information on the numbers of inspectors, inspections, violations, and enforcement actions.

Section 8. Rule of Construction
Establishes that nothing in the Act shall affect the treatment of dietary supplements.

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