(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) applauded the passage of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act through the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. This bill would make food safer for families across the country by ensuring the FDA has the resources it needs to prevent tainted food and products from entering our country’s supply chain. The bill unanimously passed the HELP committee today and will now move to the full Senate for consideration.

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act will give the FDA new authorities, tools and resources to comprehensively reform the nation’s food safety systems. The bipartisan bill focuses on four key areas where FDA’s authorities and resources need to be improved: food-borne illness prevention; food-borne illness detection and response; food defense capabilities; and overall resources.

The full text of Senator Murray’s statement follows:

“Thank you Mr. Chairman and Senator Enzi, for your hard work on the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which we are considering here today.  I know how important this topic is to families across the country, and I’m glad we’re here today to move legislation that will address it.

“We know that the U.S. has the safest food supply in the world, largely because of the joint efforts of the food industry and our regulatory agencies.  But each year, millions of Americans are still getting sick as a result of food borne illnesses.

“That is because while our food system is relatively safe, it is also outdated and underfunded.  We’ve seen major food outbreaks recently: of spinach, peppers, peanuts and cookie dough.  The focus on contaminated and unsafe products underscores the need for timeliness in improving food safety. And that is exactly what we’re here to do today.

“Whether it is dinner out at a restaurant, a pre-cut salad picked up for dinner, or a home-cooked meal, Americans deserve to know that the food they’re eating is safe.  For the health and safety of our country, at a time when millions of Americans are struggling to put food on the table, and for the health of our food industry, we can’t afford to have repeated food outbreaks.

“We’ve taken steps forward in recent years – like including additional protections in the FDA reauthorization bill in the last Congress.  And I have worked with my colleagues to strengthen the FDA’s food safety program by supporting increased funding for these programs.

“But now is the time to go further – to take additional steps to protect our nation’s food and feed supplies – and one of the best ways to do that is by preventing the tainted foods and products from entering our supply chain. 

“We need to pass strong legislation that gives the FDA the tools it needs to enforce higher food safety standards and prevent, detect and respond to food outbreaks.  We also need to make sure the FDA has the resources it needs to get the job done.

“That’s why I am glad we’re here today to consider the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.  This bill, introduced by Senator Durbin, enjoys the bipartisan support and co-sponsorship of many members of this Committee.  It will give the FDA additional authorities and resources to ensure the safety of our food supply, and it is one more step forward.

“I appreciate the hard work of the cosponsors of this legislation, and I look forward to continuing to work with you as this process moves forward.”