Dodd: FDA approach to food safety needs overhaul

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) says a new Institute of Medicine (IOM) report shows the urgent need for food safety legislation that would boost the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) powers.

Dodd is one of 16 bipartisan co-sponsors of Sen. Dick Durbin’s (D-Ill.) Food Safety Modernization Act, which the Senate is expected to pick up soon.

“This report outlines several deeply troubling facts about our nation’s food safety system,” Dodd said in a statement. “The bottom line is, the FDA’s approach to keeping our nation’s food supplies safe is in desperate need of a complete overhaul. Food-borne illnesses caused by salmonella and E. coli contamination contribute to 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year.”

The IOM report — “Enhancing Food Safety: The Role of the Food and Drug Administration” — suggests that “the FDA lacks a comprehensive vision for food safety” and “should change its approach in order to properly protect the nation’s food.”

“In order for the FDA to better ensure food safety, legislative and organizational changes are necessary,” the report goes on to say. “Most notably, Congress should consider taking legislative action to provide the FDA with the authority it needs to fulfill its food safety mission.”

The Senate bill enhances the FDA’s powers by giving it mandatory recall and administrative detention authority and expanding its access to corporate records.

“The time is now to pass legislation that provides for a complete revamp of our food safety guidelines,” Dodd said.

The House passed Rep. John Dingell’s (D-Mich.) food safety bill by a vote of 283-142 last July.