FDA chief lauds food safety bill as the ‘right direction’

In her first appearance before Congress as commissioner, Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (below, right) told the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health that a safety overhaul sponsored by several leading Democrats was “a major step in the right direction,” but that her agency would need more money to carry it out."

The New York Times reports
that legislation, still in draft, blends provisions from bills offered by several top Democrats and includes requirements that all food manufacturers write and carry out safety plans, pay an annual registration fee of $1,000 to the F.D.A. and keep track of the distribution of all food products.

The agency would be required to inspect every food facility in the country at least once every four years, with high-risk ones being inspected every 18 months.

Despite her support for the legislation, Dr. Hamburg said the registration fees “will, sadly, not be enough to implement those targets.”

Pamela G. Bailey, president of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, in what appeared to be some kind of Orwellian-speak, told the committee,

“Our industry is ultimately responsible for the safety of its products,” Ms. Bailey said in a written statement, “but securing the safety of the food supply is a government function which should be largely financed with government resources.”