U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) is pushing for reform of the
nation's food safety mechanisms.
Durbin is sponsoring the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act to prevent
food-borne illnesses, which he says will be the first major reform in
food safety and inspections in 50 years, if it passes. He says we need
government protection, because consumers are unable to protect
themselves. "Many of the dangers are invisible," he says.
The measure increases Food and Drug Administration inspections at food
facilities, gives the government the authority to order recalls, allows
the FDA to recognize accreditation bodies that certify private
laboratories, requires importers to verify the safety of foreign
suppliers, and gives the FDA access to records associated with
The bill would apply strictly speaking to interstate commerce, which
covers most of the commercial food chain. Some farmers' markets also
involve interstate commerce; a Durbin spokesman says vendors below a
certain sales level might be exempted from some provisions.
Durbin introduced the bill following deaths associated with tainted
spinach, peanut butter, pistachios and dog food. He says the food industry
backs this bill. He expects to pass it out of committee this year.