andrew schneider investigates

April 21, 2008

House committee has plan to improve FDA

Filed under: FDA,Food labeling,Public health legislation — Andrew Schneider @ 10:08

After holding a dozen investigatory hearings into the actions, or, more accurately, the lack of action, by the Food and Drug Administration, congressional committees have laid out the skeleton of major changes it wants the agency to institute to insure the safety of imported food, drugs and medical devices.

“By strengthening protections against tainted imports and boosting FDA resources, this bill will help assure Americans that the food on their tables and the medicine in their cabinets is safe,” said Rep. John Dingell, chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

“Our legislation will provide the resources and regulations necessary to protect American families from the unsafe food and drugs pouring into this country from China and elsewhere.” said Rep. Bart Stupak, who heads the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

The committee posted a draft of the Food and Drug Administration Globalization Act of 2008 for discussion and intends to hold legislative hearings on the draft over the next few weeks and to markup legislation soon after.

There are scores of issues that the “Discussion Draft” raised to be addressed. Those from the food side of the FDA triangle of concerns include:

The creation of an accurate registry of all food facilities serving American consumers and require that all register with FDA each year.

The prevention of food safety problems before they occur by requiring foreign and domestic food facilities to have safety plans in place to identify and mitigate hazards. These plans would be reviewed by FDA during mandatory inspections every four years.

The requirement that foreign facilities not certified would be required to ship products only through ports of entry with Federal testing laboratories.

A requirement that country-of-origin labeling disclose where the final processing of the food product occurred.

The providing of new authority to the FDA to issue mandatory recalls of tainted foods and strengthen fines imposed on food facilities that fail to comply with safety requirements.

Require meat, poultry, and seafood products to which carbon monoxide has been added to be labeled with a consumer notice that the freshness of the product should not be judged by color.

And, develop a method so the public can understand and observe the process by which FDA allows an additive to be designated as “generally recognized as safe” and thus exempt from the extensive testing required for all food products.

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