US bill would boost FDA powers, increase food and drug inspections
Source of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Publications/Food-Beverage-Nutrition/FoodNavigatorUSA/Legislation/US-bill-would-boost-FDA-powers-increase-food-and-drug-inspections
By Caroline Scott-Thomas, 29-Jan-2009
unveiled in the House of Representatives this week would increase Food and
Drug Administration powers and the frequency of safety inspections – but
would require industry to cover the cost.
The bill – proposed by
Democrats on the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee –
would require food companies to be inspected at least once every four years,
and drug companies at least every two, but would require manufacturers to pay
fees to the FDA.
legislation comes at a time when several food industry organizations have been
calling for increased powers for the FDA, which currently only has the power
to request companies to implement voluntary recalls. The FDA
also provides advice to manufacturers who initiate their own voluntary recall
While it welcomed the
move on the whole, a spokesperson for the Grocery Manufacturers Association
(GMA) told FoodNavigator-USA.com: “We believe that food safety is a right that all Americans have – like defense and infrastructure – and that it should be paid
for by Congress appropriating general funds.”
The GMA was one of ten
organizations representing the food industry that signed letters to both the
House of Representatives and the Senate last week urging reform of the FDA in
order to better guarantee food safety, but its support for granting the FDA
additional powers goes back further.
“This is something we
have been calling for, for at least a year,” said the spokesperson.
He rejected, however,
the idea that granting the FDA additional powers would speed up the process
of administering product recalls.
“No company has any
incentive at all to knowingly provide contaminated products to its clients,” he said. “Food
safety and consumer confidence is priority number one, so it is in a
company’s best interests to withdraw a product immediately.”
Signatories to the
letters included the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the American Frozen
Food Institute, the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the Food
Marketing Institute, among others.
Last week, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) also
criticized the FDA’s response to the salmonella
outbreak linked to peanut products, and said: “Without mandates for recall
and few inspectors, the agency’s ability to protect the public is minimal.
This latest outbreak proves again that FDA is woefully inadequate to the task
of protecting American consumers from unsafe food. It presently inspects low
risk peanut butter plants rarely, or not at all, leaving the job to state
The FDA came under
increased pressure when it emerged that it had outsourced inspections of a
Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) plant in Georgia, currently at the center of the salmonella outbreak in which eight people
The PCA facility has
now been confirmed as the source of a salmonella strain that has caused 502
illnesses across 43 states and one in Canada. 108 of those have been