For Immediate Release: July 31, 2009
Trust for America’s Health Commends Passage of Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009
WASHINGTON, DC - Trust for America's Health (TFAH) applauded the U.S. House of Representatives today for the passing the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 (HR 2749). The bill will strengthen the nation's prevention of foodborne illness, which sickens approximately 76 million Americans -- one in four -- each year. Of these, an estimated 325,000 are hospitalized and 5,000 die. Medical costs and lost productivity due to foodborne illnesses in the U.S. are estimated to cost $44 billion annually. The bill was introduced by U.S. House energy and Commerce Committee Chair Emeritus John D. Dingell, Chairs Henry A. Waxman, Frank Pallone, and Bart Stupak, and Reps. Diana DeGette and Betty Sutton.
"This reform means that common-sense updates will be put in place to reform our food safety system, which has remained largely unchanged for a century," said Jeffrey Levi, PhD, Executive Director of TFAH. "Americans have a right to expect their government will ensure the food safety system is focused on fighting modern-day threats and will prevent unnecessary illness. This victory is a great start."
Earlier this year, TFAH and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) released their report, Keeping America's Food Safe: A Blueprint for Fixing the Food Safety System at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which examines problems with the fragmented and antiquated current system and proposes ways to improve the food safety functions at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and better protect the nation's food supply. The full report can be found here: LINK.
The Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009:
- Requires all registered food facilities to develop food safety plans that identify potential hazards and process controls to minimize risk.
- Increases the frequency of FDA inspections of high-risk food processing facilities to at least every 6-12 months, lower-risk facilities at least every 18 months to 3 years, and warehouses once every 5 years.
- Builds FDA's enforcement tools, including giving the agency the authority to order a recall of a contaminated food if a company fails to do so.
- Requires that FDA, within two years, develop a system for tracing contaminated food to its source within two business days.
- Requires FDA to regularly identify the most dangerous contaminants and issue performance standards so food companies can reduce risk.
- Improves food safety information by assessing public risk for foodborne illness, linking data sources across agencies, and implementing a public education program on food safety.
- Increases research capacity to bring our food safety system into the 21st century.