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Energy and Commerce Leaders Release Strong Food Safety Legislation

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Today Chair Emeritus John D. Dingell, Chairs Henry A. Waxman, Frank Pallone, and Bart Stupak, and Reps. Diana DeGette and Betty Sutton released a discussion draft of the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009.

The draft is largely based on the food provisions of H.R. 759, the Food and Drug Administration Globalization Act of 2009, introduced in January by Reps. Dingell, Stupak, and Pallone. The Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 incorporates technical assistance from the new Administration as well as other stakeholders. The legislation grants the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authorities and resources it needs to better ensure the safety of the nation's food supply. The Committee has scheduled a legislative hearing for June 3, 2009.

"This legislation is a long time coming," said Rep. Dingell, Chair Emeritus of the Energy and Commerce Committee. "Just in the past two years American consumers have been confronted with melamine in milk, tainted peppers, Salmonella in peanut products, and E.coli in spinach. Consumer confidence in the nation's food supply is low and we must act now to address this problem. The legislation will grant FDA the authorities, and more importantly, the resources to protect the nation's food supply. I look forward to continued work with the new leadership at FDA to ensure they are adequately equipped to handle an increasingly global marketplace."

"The current state of our food safety system is dangerous not just for the American public, but also for the food industry itself," said Rep. Waxman, Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee. "This bill recognizes that the hallmark of strong food safety legislation must be a shared responsibility for food safety oversight between FDA and industry. This legislation will go a long way toward restoring Americans' confidence in our food supply."

"As evidenced by the recent widespread contaminations in our food supply, including E.coli in spinach, salmonella in peppers and the most recent outbreak of salmonella in peanut butter, it is clear that we must act now," said Rep. Pallone, Chair of the Health Subcommittee. "This draft builds on legislation introduced earlier this year and will empower the FDA with the resources and authorities it needs to ensure that our food is safe to eat. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and the administration to move this crucial piece of legislation forward."

"Our 10 food safety hearings in the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations have highlighted the need for an overhaul of our food safety laws," said Rep. Stupak, Chair of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. "The American people deserve a Food and Drug Administration that has both the funding and the regulatory authority needed to protect our food supply and hold the food industry accountable. President Obama and the new FDA leadership have expressed a commitment to food safety reform and I look forward to working with them to return FDA to the gold standard in protecting the public health."

"We cannot afford any further delay in moving comprehensive food safety legislation," said Rep. DeGette, Vice Chair of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. "This bill takes a number of positive steps in addressing the holes in our nation's food safety system. The FDA needs the resources to prevent foodborne illness from happening in the first place, but also tools like mandatory recall and traceback to better deal with emergencies."

"Americans should be able to trust that the food they eat and feed their families is safe," said Rep. Sutton. "Congress must ensure that the FDA is doing all that it can to protect our families and ensure our food safety. That is why I introduced the Protect Consumers Act which gives the FDA mandatory recall authority when we learn that food is unsafe to eat. Many of my colleagues have introduced additional measures and I am pleased that this issue has become a priority. I am pleased to join Chairman Waxman, Chairman Pallone and Reps. Dingell, Stupak and DeGette in releasing this collaborative discussion draft to give the Food and Drug Administration mandatory recall authority and the tools needed for comprehensive food safety reform. Americans need to know that the food on their family's table and in their children's lunchboxes will be safe."

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