Groups Outline Challenges with Senate Food Safety Bill

October 30, 2009 Bookmark and Share

NAWG and 25 other agricultural producer and processor groups wrote Senators this week to provide detailed comments on pending food safety legislation.

The letter was directed to the Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) and included items the groups believe are satisfactory in S. 510, the current legislative draft, as well as items the groups believe should be amended.

As with previous communications on the topic of food safety, the groups emphasized the need for a science- and risk-based approach to any regulation.

Specific recommendations focused on the need to:

  • clarify the Food and Drug Administration’s records-access authority, including the addition of confidentiality safeguards;
  • adopt more science-based thresholds in provisions addressing hazard analysis;
  • incorporate into existing provisions flexibility for FDA to consider warehouses storing grains, oilseeds and other similarly handled, low-risk, raw agricultural commodities when determining regulatory requirements;
  • clarify that any performance standards adopted by FDA be promulgated through notice-and-comment rulemaking;
  • add provisions creating an indemnification program to compensate individual producers and facilities for monetary losses incurred as a result of erroneous administrative actions or inactions; and
  • reexamine the specified timelines and deadlines for implementing various provisions to ensure they are achievable.

Like the House-passed version of food safety legislation approved in July, the Senate version would grant the FDA authority to oversee everything from food production and processing to distribution and retail, and to ensure that imported food meets U.S. safety standards.

After much negotiation, the final House bill largely exempted grain operations – which are considered extremely low-risk – from overly broad records access and traceability standards.

NAWG and coalition partners have been closely watching the legislative process on this issue, which has gained traction due to a number of high-profile food safety scares in recent years.

For more information about this issue and the letter sent this week, please visit