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Chairman Dingell, I want to thank you for all the hard work you have put in on this bill, and also Chairman Waxman. We worked on a bipartisan basis.
I rise today in strong support of the Food Safety Modernization Act. After 2 years of hard work, we're finally on the cusp of enacting landmark comprehensive food safety legislation.
The modernization of our food safety system is desperately needed. The current food regulatory regime was established in 1938 and hasn't been overhauled in 70 years. Since this time, the U.S. food supply has evolved into a global network made up of foreign products, processors, and growers over whom the U.S. has little or no control. Think about what a different world it was in 1938. That alone should be reason enough to update our food safety laws today.
Every time we have a food safety crisis, be it eggs or spinach or peppers or peanuts, we shake our heads at the vulnerability of our food supply and bemoan the fact that we don't have the tools to protect it. And these aren't isolated instances. Each year, 48 million Americans are sickened from consuming contaminated food, and as many as 3,000 to 5,000 of these people die.
The Food Safety Modernization Act will give the FDA the ability, the authority, and the resources to protect American consumers from contaminated food domestically and abroad. FDA will now better ensure food safety through more frequent inspections of food processing facilities, the development of a food trace-back system to pinpoint the source of food-borne illnesses, and enhanced powers to ensure that imported foods are safe. Perhaps most notably, the bill emphasizes prevention and safety that helps ensure that food is safe before it's distributed, before it reaches store shelves, before it reaches the kitchens of American families.
We have the most productive and most efficient food distribution system in the world, but we need to make sure that we have the safest food supply. American families need to know the food they select from grocery stores and the meals they put on their kitchen tables are safe.
Now, I'll say the bill before us isn't perfect, but it is a good bill, and it's backed by a diverse coalition that includes food producers, grocery manufacturers, and consumers. It has strong bipartisan support. Last year, the House passed its version by a vote of 283-142. The Senate passed a bill nearly identical to the one before us today by a vote of 73-25. And this is an overwhelming
show of support for legislation which will significantly protect the public health.
I'm proud we're passing this bill one more time. Today, of course, it will go to the President for his signature. He has said he would sign it. And I urge my colleagues to support this landmark legislation.
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