By Julian Pecquet - 09/13/10 08:57 PM EDT
Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Monday introduced a bill that would create a new criminal offense for any individual or corporation that knowingly distributes tainted food products. The bill also establishes fines and prison sentences of up to 10 years for those convicted of such a crime.
The new bill, known as the Food Safety Accountability Act, comes in the wake of a massive recall of tainted eggs linked to salmonella poisonings.
Leahy said Monday he has placed the bill on the agenda for his panel's business meeting scheduled for Thursday.
"The American people should be confident that the food they buy for their families is safe," Leahy said in a statement. "The Food Safety Accountability Act will hold criminals who poison our food supply accountable for their crimes. The fines and recalls that usually result from criminal violations under current law fall short in protecting the public from harmful products. Too often, those who are willing to endanger our children in pursuit of profits view such fines or recalls as just the cost of doing business. This common sense bill increases the sentences that prosecutors can seek for people who knowingly violate our food safety laws."