PULSE: In the News

Passage of Food Safety Modernization Act Praised by Public Health Leaders

Sweeping overhaul lauded by former HHS Secretary and former FDA Associate Commissioner of Foods

The Food Safety Modernization Act, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives today and is headed for the president’s signature, represents the most sweeping overhaul of the food safety system in almost 75 years. Former HHS Secretary Michael O. Leavitt and former FDA Associate Commissioner of Foods David Acheson praised the Act for the public health benefits provided to American consumers.

 “This is the most significant change to food safety regulation in 75 years,” said David Acheson who served in multiple food safety leadership roles at FDA. “It represents the basis for significant and immediate public health gains for the American public.”

The new law expands FDA’s authorities and places new requirements on growers, manufacturers, transporters, processors, importers and retailers. New authorities for FDA include expanded access to records, mandatory recall authority and the ability to require that imported food is certified for being in compliance with U.S. regulations.

 “The system was badly in need of modernization,” said former HHS Secretary Michael O. Leavitt, who was a proponent of the food safety legislation when he was secretary and who led President Bush’s Import Safety Working Group, which created an action plan for import safety and laid some of the groundwork for the current legislation. “What makes this agreement so remarkable is that it is generally welcomed by business and consumers, which tells you how essential this legislation is to the health of our people and the strength of our economy.”

The new law will have a significant impact on the food industry at all levels of the supply chain, both domestically and outside the U.S. Growers and harvesters will be required to comply with science-based standards for the safe production and harvest of produce. New regulations will be developed for the safe transportation of food. Registered facilities will be required to conduct an analysis of hazards and develop a plan for implementing and monitoring preventive controls to mitigate risk. Importers will be required to verify that imported products meet U.S. regulations.

 “The passage of food safety legislation is a major public health victory and Congress deserves credit for getting it done,” said Leavitt. “This is a foundation that will allow Americans to have less foodborne illness and businesses to have a modern and workable system.”