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Tallahassee, Florida

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Brian Smith
Brian Smith
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A True Food Safety Agency May Be On the Horizon

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If Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn) has it her way, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration might soon be split into separate food safety and drug/device safety responsibilities. DeLauro intends to introduce legislation proposing to do just that by late September.

DeLauro, chairwoman of the House agriculture appropriations subcommittee, made the suggestion at a Sept. 17 hearing focused on the salmonella outbreak investigation. DeLauro said she plans to introduce the Food Safety Modernization Act the week of Sept. 22, which will seek to establish the Food Safety Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services that would have responsibility for all food safety issues currently administered by the FDA.

“To be sure, our ultimate goal must remain an independent, single food agency, but I believe that in order to begin fixing our broken system, we must act now, and this is the best way forward,” she said in her opening statement at the food safety hearing.

A news release from DeLauro’s office said other components of the legislation will address traceability, process controls, inspections and insuring the safety of imported foods.

The FDA has been at the center of a number of recent controversies over its handling of food safety issues, including tracking tainted foods and the failure to act more quickly in response to foodborne outbreaks, to name a few.

Representative DeMauro is not alone in her opinion that the system is broken. The question remains whether the establishment of a single food safety agency is enough. With questions still lingering from the tomato/pepper outbreak, the debate surrounding the proposed legislation is certain to be intense.