WASHINGTON, DC- Language from bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) was included in the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act which passed the Senate today. The provisions, from Senator Casey’s EAT SAFE Act, add personnel to detect, track and remove smuggled food and call for the development and implementation of strategies to stop food from being smuggled into the United States.
“I am pleased that the Senate has passed my provisions to address a critical aspect of the food and agricultural import system - food smuggled into the United States,” said Senator Casey. “A grave threat of smuggled food and agricultural products comes from the companies, importers and individuals who circumvent U.S. inspection requirements or restrictions on imports of certain products from a particular country. Smuggled food and agriculture products present safety risks to our food, plants and animals and pose a threat to our Nation’s health, economy and security.”
Specifically, Senator Casey’s provisions included in the food safety bill would:
o add personnel to detect, track and remove smuggled food;
o call for the development and implementation of strategies to stop food from being smuggled into the United States;
o require data sharing and coordination amongst federal agencies dealing with food safety and foodborne illnesses; and
o enhance public notification of recalled or smuggled food products.
Senator Casey continued, “With passage of this food safety bill, we are on the right path toward protecting our nation’s food supply and combating foodbourne illness that is especially dangerous to vulnerable populations like older Americans, children and those with chronic illnesses. I have been moved by the story of my constituent Pat Buck’s two-year-old grandson, Kevin Kowalcyk, who tragically died in 2001 from an infection of E. coli O157:H7 – the form of the E. coli bacterium most commonly linked to food borne illness.”
Senator Casey first introduced the Ending Agricultural Threats: Safeguarding America’s Food for Everyone, otherwise known as the EAT SAFE Act in 2007, along with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA). The EAT SAFE Act addressed the problems of smuggled food and agriculture products which currently pose serious risks to our plants, animals and food and pose a threat to our nation’s health, economy and security.
The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act would place more emphasis on prevention of food borne illness and give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration new, modern authorities to address food safety problems. With the addition of Senator Casey’s provisions, it also covers smuggled food and contains language to include an increase of 150 food defense employees to detect, track and remove smuggled food.
A September 2007 report issued by the President’s Interagency Working Group on Import Safety acknowledges that, “aspects of our present import system must be strengthened to promote security, safety, and trade for the benefit of American consumers.” Just one of the aspects that need to be strengthened is the detection of the mounting numbers of shipments of smuggled or otherwise illegally imported food and agricultural products coming into this country.