Industry News | July 31, 2009

Organizations Voice Support for Food Safety Act

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Multiple organizations spoke out in support of the passing of the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 (HR 2749) by the House of Representatives.

"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, executive director of Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), in a statement “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."

According to TFAH, the bill will strengthen the nation’s prevention of foodborne illness, which sickens approximately 76 million Americans—one in four—each year. Of these, the organization says, 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.

United Fresh Produce Association president and CEO Tom Stenzel released the following statement on the passage of the Act, which passed on a vote of 283 to 142: “United Fresh is gratified by the House passage of this landmark food safety legislation, which contains several important provisions designed to improve our nation’s food safety and help bolster consumer confidence in the food supply. United Fresh is largely supportive of the bill, which has received broad bipartisan support. Over the past two years, United Fresh has supported congressional action on food safety and appreciates the opportunity to provide critical input to lawmakers in development of the bill.”

Erik D. Olson, director of Food and Consumer Product Safety for the Pew Charitable Trusts, a nonprofit organization that provides grants to improve public policy and inform the public, said the act will give Americans more confidence in their food.

“Today’s bill will help give the government stronger tools and more resources to safeguard our food supply,” he said. “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.”

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