Food safety debate: Transcripts of the final chapter - The Packer

Food safety debate: Transcripts of the final chapter

12/22/2010 09:44:35 AM
Tom Karst

This collaborative proposal is supported by the pertinent industries, consumer groups, and unions. I should emphasize that this plan would not interfere with the good work currently being done by Under Secretary Elisabeth Hagen at FSIS. And I look forward to working with all of my colleagues in the next Congress to move this proposal forward.

Ultimately, I believe, as do leaders across the aisle, that we must establish a single food safety agency. Currently, food safety responsibilities are fragmented across 15 Federal agencies and are governed by 71 interagency agreements. Food safety and public health experts, as well as the Government Accountability Office, have concluded that this fragmentation has created redundancies that have weakened our food safety response. We need to consolidate all of these food safety functions under one roof. This will provide an updated regulatory structure and strengthen oversight and surveillance activities to better protect our food supply.

I will continue to fight for this single agency. I believe it is needed to ensure that the food in our fridges and on our kitchen tables is safe. Nonetheless, the legislation we must pass today is a strong first step toward a safer food supply and reducing the number of preventable food-borne illnesses and deaths. I urge my colleagues to face this public health threat and to pass food safety legislation. Every parent who goes in to buy food needs to know that they are taking it home and it's safe for their children.

Waxman, Henry U.S. Representative
[D] California

Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Speaker and my colleagues, the Senate only passed this bill a couple of nights ago. And so we have now the opportunity to vote to take it or reject it. Some on the other side of the aisle, Republicans, are saying we should reject the whole bill because of the Tester amendment, which exempts small farmer-producers and facilities. We didn't have that in our bill, and I would have preferred that the Senate had not adopted that provision. But I don't think it is a reason to vote against this whole bill.

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