Rep. Rosa DeLauro, an outspoken critic of federal oversight of food industries in response to outbreaks, is again calling for a single federal food safety agency.
DeLauro, D-Conn., spoke on the issue June 20 at a Congressional Food Safety Caucus briefing.
“Protecting our nation’s food supply from unsafe and contaminated food is an important, extensive, and at times complicated task,” DeLauro said in a news release. “Nearly a decade since we passed the Food Safety Modernization Act, our food supply is still plagued by large food outbreaks that cause foodborne illness.”
DeLauro named outbreaks in the past year related to romaine lettuce, ground beef and eggs.
She said the nation’s food safety system is “hopelessly fragmented and outdated,” and issued a document describing the need for a new approach in greater detail.
“I am proud to be reintroducing legislation with Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois to create a single, independent food safety agency,” DeLauro said. “Our bill ensures we have a single agency accountable for food safety, research, prevention, inspections, investigations, and labeling. We need a commonsense, 21st century way of ensuring food safety and a single food safety agency is it.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration are the two main agencies with food safety oversight, with FDA tasked with produce safety under the FSMA, and the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service covering meat products.
Representatives from the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Consumer Federation of America also appeared at the event.
The quest for a single food safety agency is not new.
Last year, the Trump administration also proposed a unified food safety agency within the USDA called the Federal Food Safety Agency.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office has recommended that federal government consolidate food safety functions in a single agency for more than 40 years, but proposals to make the idea a reality have never gained traction.