Chambliss introduces measure to improve response to food-borne illness outbreaks
U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, R-GA, Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, June 16 joined U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, in introducing a bipartisan measure to promote a more effective national response to outbreaks of food-borne sickness. The Food Safety Rapid Response Act of 2009 will strengthen federal, state and local capabilities for investigating outbreaks of food-borne disease and tracing the sources of contamination. The bill also calls for an increase in participation of public heath and food regulatory agencies and laboratories to share findings and develop a centralized database.
"The recent nationwide salmonella outbreak clearly demonstrates that there needs to be better coordination between public health agencies when responding to a food-safety crisis," said Sen. Chambliss. "This legislation will expedite much needed improvements to identifying and responding to food-borne illnesses throughout the country."
"As a former prosecutor, I believe the first responsibility of a government is to protect its citizens," said Sen. Klobuchar. "When people get sick or die from contaminated food, it means our government has failed in this duty. By strengthening our nation's food safety system, we can save both lives and money."
Key provisions in the bill include:
--Directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to enhance the nation's food-borne disease surveillance system by improving the collection, analysis, reporting and usefulness of data among local, state and federal agencies as well as the food industry.
--Directing the CDC to provide support and expertise to state health agencies and laboratories for their investigations of food-borne disease. This includes promoting "best practices" for food safety investigations.
--Establishing regional "Food Safety Centers of Excellence" at select public health departments and higher education institutions to provide increased resources, training and coordination among state and local personnel.
The Food Safety Rapid Response Act complements the bipartisan Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, cosponsored by Sen. Chambliss and introduced in March, which would strengthen the Food and Drug Administration's authority and resources to ensure a safe food supply.