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Capps, House Approve Food Safety Legislation

The legislation would increase inspections and stiffen penalties for facilities not complying with production standards

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on Thursday joined the House in approving legislation to better ensure the public’s health and safety by improving the inspection and oversight of the nation’s food supply.

The bipartisan Food Safety Enhancement Act (House Resolution 2749) would grant the Food and Drug Administration the authority and resources to better prevent food-borne illnesses and would provide the tools to respond if illnesses do occur. The legislation also would increase the food industry’s responsibility for overseeing the safety of their products and provide the FDA with new and enhanced tools to hold the food industry accountable. The legislation passed 283-142.

“Americans should never have to question the safety of the food that they purchase from a restaurant or grocery store, but unfortunately, over the last few years we’ve seen several examples of food-borne illnesses that have underscored the need for reform,” Capps said. “By increasing and expanding the FDA’s authority, we can restore consumer’s confidence and peace of mind that the food they buy and feed their families will not make them sick.”

While many Americans assume the food supply is among the safest in the world, public health officials estimate that every year about 76 million people in the United States become sick, and 5,000 of them die, from food-borne illnesses. Since 2006, there have been numerous outbreaks of dangerous infections in common foods including spinach, tomatoes, peanut butter and ground beef. The legislation would help protect the public health against such outbreaks and update federal food safety laws to keep pace with the changes in food production and processing methods.

The Food Safety Enhancement Act would increase the number and scope of inspections for food production facilities and enhance the safety of foreign food imports. It would require the FDA to issue standards for ensuring the safe production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables, and strengthen penalties on food facilities that fail to comply with safety requirements.

“Every parent should feel confident about what they feed their children,” Capps said, “and this legislation goes a long way toward making sure they do.”

— Emily Kryder is the communications director for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.


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