Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Stupak applauds Senate passage of Food Safety bill, urges swift House action

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, applauded the Senate’s passage today of S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.

"I am pleased that after more than a year of delay the Senate has finally passed comprehensive food safety legislation," Stupak said. "The food safety bill, which is similar to the House bill I introduced with Congressmen Dingell, Pallone and Chairman Waxman, provides the FDA with some of the resources and authorities it needs to effectively monitor our nation’s food supply and prevent outbreaks of food-borne illnesses."

As chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Stupak has held 13 food safety hearings over the past four years, examining the failures of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the food industry to protect the nation’s food supply. The subcommittee examined failures in the food safety system highlighted by E. coli in meat and fresh greens, as well as salmonella-contaminated peanut butter, jalapeno peppers and, most recently, eggs.

Findings of the investigations and related hearings led Stupak and fellow Energy and Commerce Committee members John Dingell (D-MI), Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) to craft H.R. 2749, the Food Safety and Enhancement Act of 2009. Among the improvements to the nation’s food safety laws, the bill would establish a national food tracing system, making it easier for the FDA to prevent and respond to outbreaks of food-borne illness, and would provide the FDA mandatory recall authority to remove contaminated food from shelves as soon as a problem is identified.

"With little time left for legislative action, I strongly urge Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer to schedule a House vote on S. 510 this week so the 111th Congress can complete its work on this important issue and send this critical legislation to President Obama before the end of the year," Stupak said.

In answer to a question from Keweenaw Now as to whether this legislation would affect small farmers who sell their own produce, e.g., at farmers markets, Stupak's office sent this reply: "The bill passed by the Senate exempts small farmers who garner less than $500,000 in annual sales and those who sell directly to the consumer. This includes small farmers who sell directly to farmers markets and those who produce organic and natural food."

Editor's Note: Click here to see the New York Times report on how the Senate voted. Click here for versions of the bill text.