Pet Food Safety Added to FDA Bill

Sen. Durbin added a provision to a pending FDA funding bill that will:

…tighten regulations on imported food and increase labeling responsibilities for pet food companies. The amendment also would create a single scientific system for states to determine which food should be recalled, a process now handled differently in each state, and impose financial penalties on companies that do not report problems within two days.

But it does not give the FDA authority to issue recalls, just suggest them. The amendment’s fate lies with the entire FDA funding bill.

Full text of the amendment after the jump. Full legal copy is archived here: 2007 FDA Funding Bill Amendment for Pet Food Safety

Related: More on the bill and Sen. Durbin’s words.

(Thanks PetConnection)

Pet and Human Food Safety Amendment

Prescription Drug User Fee Amendments of 2007

This amendment is designed to close some of the gaps in the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) food safety system that have been identified following the recent recalls of spinach, peanut butter, and pet food.


To ensure the safety of human and pet food

Section 1. Findings

States the importance of the food safety system, the increasing volume of imported food, and the decreasing number of full-time equivalent FDA inspectors.

Section 2. Ensuring the Safety of Pet Food

Requires the FDA to set processing and ingredient standards for pet food and to update the labeling standards for pet food including nutritional and ingredient information. The provision would require FDA to set these standards in consultation with relevant stakeholders including the veterinarian medical associations, animal health organizations, pet food manufactures and the American Association of Feed Control.

The section also directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish an enhanced system capable of detecting pet food contamination and outbreaks of pet illness and death. This provision would to the extent appropriate be modeled on the existing human food contamination and detection infrastructure.

Section 3. Efficient and Effective Communications During a Recall

The provision requires the FDA to work to develop efficient and effective communications plans to better coordinate with veterinarians and other relevant stakeholders during outbreaks of both pet and human food. Recall data would have to be consolidated into and presented in a searchable format so that the public could easily and rapidly determine if a product in question is subject to a recall.

Section 4. State and Federal Cooperation (Produce)

Directs the Secretary to work with States to collaborate on activities and programs that assist in improving the safety of raw agricultural commodities. The Secretary will share resources in this effort with States to improve State food programs and help States establish standards and procedures to ensure processed produce is safe for human consumption.

Section 5. Adulterated Food Registry

Requires the FDA to establish a registry to collect information on cases of potentially dangerous food adulteration or suspected adulteration to help improve risk-based surveillance of food safety and improve the speed with which consumers and firms are notified about adulterations. Importers and domestic processors and manufactures of food would have to submit information pertaining to actual or suspected adulteration of food. The submission would be made to the FDA for inclusion in a centralized database through a convenient electronic portal.

This section also clarifies that during inspections of facilities as part of an FDA investigation, inspectors have access to records for purposes of the investigation.

Section 6. Sense of the Senate

The Sense of the Senate expresses the need for greater resources, authorities and direction from Congress in regards to food safety, both domestic and international.

Section 7. Annual Report to Congress

Requires the Secretary of HHS to submit annual reports to Congress with improved information on the numbers of inspectors, inspections, violations, and enforcement actions.

Section 8. Rule of Construction

Establishes that nothing in the Act shall affect the treatment of dietary supplements.

9 Responses to “Pet Food Safety Added to FDA Bill”

  1. susanUnPC says:

    The co-sponsor of this amendment is Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA). Please write to her and thank her:
    – She issued the press release and letter to the FDA last week that Sen. Durbin co-signed.

    In the recent hearing, Sen. Durbin was clearly perturbed by the food companies dragging their heels — for over three weeks — on reporting the problems. The new two-day rule would be a great help.

    NOTE that we’ll have to fight for the full bill, the “FDA Revitalization Bill” as well as the Durbin-Cantwell amendment. Your senators are going to be getting a lot of pressure from MAJOR lobbyists in the medical, pharmaceutical and food industries, and we’ll need to lobby harder than they.

  2. KatieKat says:

    It is so nice to see some steps going in the right direction!!!

    Thanks to all those Senators who are working to make a difference!

  3. susanUnPC says:

    The full bill includes great improvements for prescription and medical device safety.

    There’s also an amendment to “permit medicines to be imported from abroad.”

    President Bush may VETO the entire bill if this amendment passes, which is expected. That is because Bush is in bed with the big pharmaceuticals who don’t want any competition from Canada, Ireland, etc. (Bush made sure that seniors can’t go to Canada anymore to get cheaper drugs.)

    So we will also need to wallpaper the White House with our demands that this bill be passed. (Not that Bush listens to the people, but we’ll still need to do it.)

    “Drug-imports amendment could doom FDA bill to veto”

  4. susanUnPC says:

    This is an important paragraph of the Seattle P.I. story that Itchmo links at the end above:

    “The amendment was adapted from legislation introduced Tuesday in both the Senate and House. The amendment did not include a proposal, contained in the original bill, that would give the FDA the authority to mandate recalls of contaminated or dangerous food. Durbin said that provision would be taken up later.”

    Durbin must have GOOD REASONS for adding that provision later … so I recommend we play along, telling our senators we want the FDA to be able to “mandate recalls” and that we understand the Senate will provide for this very soon.

  5. Steve says:

    Schnucks brand included in expanded pet food recall
    St. Louis Business Journal - 5:08 PM CDT Wednesday, May 2, 2007

    ITCHMO ADMIN: YUP. That’s an expansion. UGH.

  6. Sharon says:

    If they still can’t mandate recalls this bill is worthless. Guess hiring industry lawyers to write the legislation is still working for the Bush administration.

  7. Kiki says:

    Yep, no cheaper meds from our northern neighbors, just tainted food ingredients from a third world country is permitted under the Bush Admin.

  8. Helen says:

    From the Seattle PI article you link to:

    ” “Today it was your cat or dog, tomorrow it could be someone in your family you love,” Durbin said in explaining the need to strengthen the food safety system.”

    Excuse me? What exactly does he think our cats and dogs are? I’m glad he’s fighting for this but I think it might be helpful if he fully understood the role cats and dogs play in their humans’ lives.


  9. ally says:

    Helen, I hear you, but I think what Senator Durbin was doing in making that statement was place emphasis on the fact this recall has now entered the human food chain. For some ignoramuses, that is the only thing that might snag their attention into getting their butts in gear & DO SOMETHING regarding all these tainted food supplies.

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