Washington, DC – As families prepare for Thanksgiving dinner, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced her new legislation to help improve food safety in New York and across the country. When there are outbreaks of foodborne illnesses linked to produce, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is limited to investigating only the produce farms from where the outbreak originated. However, this does not take into account if contamination from nearby farms contributed to the root cause of an outbreak of foodborne illness. Gillibrand’s legislation, the Expanded Food Safety Inspection Act, would expand the FDA’s authority to investigate other potential sources of contamination to trace outbreaks of foodborne illnesses to the source.
“Thanksgiving should be a time for celebration, but with large, family meals comes the fear of food contamination that can lead to scary, and sometimes life-threatening illness. Foodborne illness makes tens of millions of Americans sick every year, and it is vital we work to prevent it and stop it from spreading,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I’m proud to announce the Expanded Food Safety Inspection Act, which would allow the FDA to fully investigate the sources of foodborne illness outbreaks. This would help stop the spread of the disease and help prevent future outbreaks. I urge my colleagues to support this bill and help improve food safety.”
When there are outbreaks of foodborne illnesses, the FDA is limited to investigating the produce farms from where the outbreaks originated. However, this does not take into account if nearby animal farms contributed to the root cause of an outbreak of foodborne illness. Gillibrand’s Expanded Food Safety Inspection Act would allow the FDA to coordinate with state and local public health organizations, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in order to better determine the source of outbreaks and give them authority to investigate contamination from nearby farms. This would help eliminate sources of contamination directly, decrease the chances of repeated outbreaks within the same region, and facilitate the quick recall of dangerous food products.
Gillibrand will introduce this bill in the Senate later this week. This legislation is endorsed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Consumer Federation of America.