Congressional Democrats are calling for the creation of a new independent food safety agency.

Rep. Rose DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have drafted the Safe Food Act of 2015, a bill to establish a single agency authorized to issue recalls, enforce safety regulations and require full traceability of foods. 

Durbin said the new department would combine the efforts of the 15 agencies currently overseeing the different aspects of food regulations and safety.

With Republicans in the majority, however, Durbin said he knows many will ask, “Why would they ever look at this?”

But he’s poised with a response.

“Why do you want to waste money,” Durbin plans to ask opposing Republicans. “Why do you want to expose Americans and their families to unsafe foods and all the health consequences?”

With 48 million people expected to get sick from foodborne illnesses this year, DeLauro said food safety should be treated as an issue of national concern.

She said Americans are eating more imported and processed food, and more foods prepared outside of the home than ever before.

She cited a GAO report, which detailed the 2010 nationwide recall of more than 500 eggs due to Salmonella contamination.

“Think of an egg,” she said. “One agency manages the health of a hen, another oversees the feed they eat; another sets the egg quality standards. If it’s in shell it’s the responsibility of the FDA [Food and Drug Administration], once it’s processed into an egg product it’s the Food Safety and Inspection Service.”

Coordinating efforts, Durbin said will reduce overall expenditures. Though he’s hoping the bill will garner support from colleagues across the aisle, Durbin is prepared to offer the bill as an amendment to another piece of legislation.

“I wouldn’t rule it out if the committees don’t take is seriously,” he said.

Tags Dick Durbin FDA Food and Drug Administration Food safety Food Safety Modernization Act Foodborne illness Health Safety Social Issues

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