Senate Dems call for full funding for food safety rules

Democrats are calling on the Senate Appropriations Committee to fully fund Food and Drug Administration food safety rules authorized by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

The push comes about a week after Blue Bell Creameries, best known for its ice cream, recalled all of its products for fear of possible listeria bacteria contamination. 

“The Food Safety Modernization Act was enacted to bring our nation’s food safety system into the 21st century by enabling our agencies to prevent food contamination rather than reacting once illnesses have occurred,” six senators wrote to the panel's chairman, vice chairman and ranking members on Thursday. “Prevention is key given that food borne pathogens cause an estimated 48 million illnesses and 3,000 deaths annually.”

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The FSMA’s preventive controls rule, which was specifically designed to reduce the impact of food-borne pathogens, would require food manufacturers to identify and implement measures, like increased factory testing, to help catch pathogens like listeria before they enter the supply chain. But the rule has yet to be finalized.

The FDA is expected to begin finalizing the FSMA rules this summer. Funding determines how quickly the rules can be put into effect. The Democratic lawmakers are pushing for the committee to approve the president’s requested increase of $109.5 million.