Coburn outlines concerns with food-safety bill

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on Wednesday outlined his concerns with food-safety legislation that's pending in the Senate.

In a detailed entry on his Web site, Coburn in particular raised concerns with duplication and overlap of responsibilities between the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Coburn also objected to the bill's $1.4 billion price tag over five years, not including $230 million directly offset by new fees. 

In the absence of guaranteed future appropriations, Coburn writes, "at best we are just passing it for a press release, and at worse, we shackle the FDA with unfunded mandates."

Coburn's objection might derail what could otherwise be smooth passage of legislation that has bipartisan support in the Senate. The House passed food-safety legislation in July 2009.

The bills in the House and Senate would give FDA the power to recall tainted food, quarantine geographical areas and access food producers’ records.