U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today announced that he has joined in introducing the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 3385), a bipartisan bill to give the FDA new authorities, tools and resources to comprehensively reform the agency’s food safety systems. At Alexander’s request, the bill also includes key provisions from food allergy legislation cosponsored by Alexander to help schools protect the more than 2.2 million children nationwide – including 41,000 Tennesseans – who suffer from life-threatening food allergies.
“This bill will help protect every American and help keep all of us healthy by improving and streamlining the FDA’s food safety efforts,” Alexander said. “Americans should be able to go to the grocery store and out to dinner without having to worry about the safety of the food they are eating. Parents shouldn’t have to risk their child’s safety in school and wonder whether their son or daughter could suffer a life-threatening allergic reaction at the lunch table.”
Last week, the FDA announced the source of the recent salmonella outbreak was jalapeño peppers and not tomatoes, as previously thought. The three month outbreak has sickened more than a thousand people and highlighted significant gaps in FDA’s ability to adequately protect the nation’s food supply.
The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act addresses some of those failings by authorizing new science-based standards for the safety of produce; increasing the frequency of inspections of all food facilities; establishing a new system for tracking and tracing-back fruits and vegetables in the event of a food-borne illness; and by giving FDA mandatory recall authority in the event a company fails to recall a product at FDA’s request. Food safety experts note that had any of these provisions been in place, the scope of the recent salmonella outbreak could have been drastically reduced and FDA’s response time, dramatically improved.
On June 9th, Alexander announced his support for the food allergy bill – the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act – at an event in Nashville where he was joined by country music star Trace Adkins, whose daughter suffers from serious food allergies.
That food allergy legislation, cosponsored by Alexander, would direct the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services – in consultation with the U.S. Secretary of Education – to develop voluntary guidelines for schools to prevent exposure to food allergens and ensure a prompt response when a student suffers a potentially fatal anaphylactic reaction. It also provides for grants to local educational agencies to assist them with the adoption and implementation of food allergy management guidelines in K-12 public schools.
Alexander was joined in introducing the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 3385) by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Senators Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Chris Dodd (D-Conn.).