President Obama signed the $1.4 billion overhaul of the nation’s food safety system on January 4th. Some lawmakers complained that the Act is too expensive and have threatened its funding. The first major overhaul of the food safety system since the 1930s, the law emphasizes prevention to help stop deadly outbreaks of food-borne illness before they occur, instead of reacting after consumers become ill.
It calls for increasing government inspections at food processing facilities and, for the first time, gives the Food and Drug Administration the power to order the recall of unsafe foods. President Obama made improving food safety a priority shortly after taking office in 2009. There have been several deadly outbreaks of E. coli and salmonella poisoning in peanuts, eggs and produce in the past few years.
Republicans who want to withhold funding would appear to have little chance of succeeding. The bill passed Congress with broad bipartisan support last year on a 73-25 vote in the Senate and by 215-144 in the House. Major food companies backed the bill, recognizing that safe food is good for business. Recent outbreaks in spinach and other foods hurt those industries financially as consumers reacted to recalls or stopped buying those products. The CDC recently estimated that 48 million people — or one in six Americans — are sickened every year by a food-borne illness. Of that, 180,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die. The U.S. has a population of more than 300 million.
Supporters of the law will press for full funding. Erik Olson, who directs food and consumer safety programs for the Pew Health Group, said the health care costs associated with an outbreak of contaminated food alone run into the tens of billions of dollars — far beyond what it would cost to put the law’s new requirements into place. Democratic Senator Tom Harkin, a lead sponsor of the bill, has acknowledged the tough spending decisions that will have to be made, but he said food safety shouldn’t be sacrificed in the process. “Fiscal responsibility does not necessitate abandoning or neglecting the need of American consumers for safe food,” Senator Harkin said in a statement. The new law will do the following:
The law exempts meat, poultry and processed eggs, since they are regulated by the Agriculture Department. Also exempt are some small businesses, which had complained that the new requirements could force some of them into bankruptcy.
Source: Associated Press
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.