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Food safety reform bill details released.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) last week detailed legislation she plans to introduce next year to streamline the food safety system, including stripping the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of its food safety duties, while leaving USDA's food safety operations intact. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is working with DeLauro to introduce companion legislation in the Senate. DeLauro's plan would give food safety the same priority as safety and marketability of prescription drugs and medical devices. Under her proposal, the FDA would be split into two agencies, one to police food and another to handle drug and device approval and oversight. Each agency would be led by its own commissioner. "By creating and appointing a dedicated commissioner for food safety with the president's ear and real authority, we may actually have a champion of public health in charge of protecting it," she said. The agencies also would have separate budgets, whereas currently food priorities compete with other FDA responsibilities.

While the proposal does not consolidate all food safety powers into one agency, DeLauro said she is not ruling out going for a single food safety agency in the future. "I want to be clear: We are not walking away from a single food agency or the reform that it promises," she said. "I believe that in order to begin fixing our broken food safety system, we must act now and this is the best way forward."

Durbin is drafting an amendment to the farm bill that would sunset in two years the ability of all agencies conducting food safety activities to do their duties--with the goal being a transition into a single food safety agency. Durbin's plan would eliminate 12 agencies that now share food safety responsibility within two years in an attempt to develop a single consolidated food safety agency. Such an approach "will give us one year to plan a better system, and one year to put the system in place," he recently stated.
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Publication:Food & Drink Weekly
Date:Oct 8, 2007
Previous Article:Latest meat industry recall may impact new farm bill debate.
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