One day after it failed to achieve a two-thirds majority vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, the Food Safety Enhancement Act (H.R. 2749) was passed on Thursday by a vote of 283-142.
“We applaud the House of Representatives’ bipartisan vote today to modernize and strengthen the nation’s food safety system,” said Erik D. Olson, director of food and consumer product safety, The Pew Charitable Trusts. “This historic action takes a major step toward ensuring Americans can have increased confidence in the safety of their food,” adding, “Foodborne disease kills one American every two hours, every day of the year, and the vast majority of these deaths are preventable. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for the safety of over 80 percent of the foods we eat, has been hamstrung in its effort to better ensure the safety of the food supply by an outdated law and inadequate resources.
“Today’s bill will help give the government stronger tools and more resources to safeguard our food supply. Instead of inspecting food plants every 10 years, on average, this legislation will require far more frequent inspections. It will help guarantee stronger rules regarding the safety of imported foods and will also ensure that companies and the FDA can trace the source of food contamination and recall tainted food, so health authorities can quickly and efficiently respond to outbreaks.”
Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO, Grocery Manufacturers Association, said GMA supports many aspects of H.R. 2749. “This legislation will strengthen our nation’s food safety net by placing prevention as the cornerstone of our nation’s food safety strategy and providing FDA with the resources and authorities it needs to adequately fulfill its food safety mission," she said. "Combined with increased industry resources and vigilance, this legislation represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to modernize our food safety system and restore the public’s faith in the safety and security of the food supply."
“We commend the House for passing legislation that will strengthen food safety in America. Most important, it focuses on systems to prevent breaches in food safety to protect consumers,” said Leslie G. Sarasin, president and chief executive officer, Food Marketing Institute. “We urge the Senate to approve companion legislation quickly so the industry and government can take the actions required to enhance our nation’s food safety system.”