Senator Durbin Calls For Immediate Reform Of FDA Import Program


Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) has introduced legislation to strengthen the FDA’s ability to monitor and inspect goods that enter the United States from abroad by imposing a fee on companies and countries exporting food products to the United States. Companies and countries exporting to the US could pay up to $20 each time they bring seafood, fruits and vegetables into the country. This proposed legislation would not apply to the products (beef and poultry) under the oversight of the Department of Agriculture.

The legislation would also require foreign firms and governments to apply for certification with FDA. Only those that met standards equivalent to those of the United States would be eligible.

The fees generated under this legislation would be used to hire more FDA inspectors and to research better methods for detecting contaminants. Senator Durbin says that federal regulators could collect more than $200 million a year from the fees.

From a press release:

“One of the biggest obstacles FDA faces in the struggle to ensure food safety is the lack of funding they need to get the job done right,” said Durbin. “While the volume of imports has nearly doubled over the last three years, the number of FDA inspectors has been steadily decreasing. Meanwhile, seventy six million Americans are getting sick each year from food borne illnesses. The system needs to be fixed immediately.”

Durbin noted that under the current system, any country and any company can export food products to the United States as long as they inform regulators of the shipment. There are currently no checks done to ensure that our trading partners have adequate regulatory systems. The FDA does not ensure that trading partners have equivalent standards or inspect overseas plants when problems arise. When the FDA needs to investigate an outbreak, it can be delayed by uncooperative foreign governments. During the recent pet food recall, U.S. regulators were delayed three weeks in their request for visas to inspect Chinese facilities.

Durbin added, “If you want to sell in America, you have to meet American standards.” His legislation would:

  • Require FDA to collect user fees on imported food products. Revenues would be used for inspections of food imports and food safety research. While the bill would give the Administration the responsibility for determining the dollar amount of the fee, it would limit it to a maximum of $20 per line item.
  • Require FDA to dedicate a portion of this funding for research on testing technologies and methods that would accurately detect the presence of pervasive contaminants such as E. Coli and listeria.
  • Require FDA to establish an Imported Food Certification Program. Under this program, foreign governments and firms interested in exporting food products to the United States would be required to apply for certification. Entities would only be certified if they meet standards equivalent to those of the United States for food safety, inspection, labeling, and consumer protection and agree to allow regulators to inspect foreign facilities. Regulators would have the ability to pull certifications if companies or countries failed to comply and detain products if they failed to meet U.S. standards.

Source: Washington Post

(Thanks Mike and menusux)

37 Responses to “Senator Durbin Calls For Immediate Reform Of FDA Import Program”

  1. Rose says:

    Senator Durbin: I hope this one gets made into law.

    For our country to say; “if you want to sell in America, you have to meet American standards” says what I believe most Americans (voters) are thinking. I hope big business doesn’t kill this, we need it!

  2. Lynne says:

    We would have the money to fully fund the FDA if we weren’t spending $195 million per day on Iraq.

  3. HomeGrown says:

    If you’re interested you can watch the FDA Diminished Capacity Hearing Part 2 tommorrow here:

  4. Denise says:

    not one single Presidential Candidate is addressing this matter on the food import and safety crisis in the country.

    I implore eeryone to bombard CNN with their youtube video demanding this matter be debated and addressed.

  5. Sharon says:

    Hilary Clinton was the first and may be the only candidate that has called for reform and tried to hold those responsible accountable.

    We pay alot of money in taxes and yet we can’t afford food safety? The amount Durbin is talking about is chump change. It’s time the people in this country get their priorities in order.

  6. E. Hamilton says:

    I DON”T want the FDA to GET any more power or money- the FDA is abusing what power it has, been unresponsive to the needs of the people and is corrupt.

    The FDA approves deadly drugs for both humans and animals, some say because the drug companies pay them off and some say it is through sheer incompetence and I say it is BOTH.

    It is a really stupid idea to give MORE of something to an agency that cannot handle what they are already abusing!
    And giving more money and power to the FDA when the SENATE CANNOT GET THE TRUTH OUT OF THE FDA NOW IS A STUPID IDEA!!!

    And I feel Durbin used these blogs for his own agenda and then BLEW US OFF- because he sure had the media pull to get the damned 16 “official” deaths lie corrected and he just did not. Durbin USED us, he wants to secure our food by throwing OUR money at the clowns who are screwing us over and neither of those things is very smart!

    If Durbin really gave a fat rat’s rear about the public he would have made it a point to help us, you know, like we HELPED him when he asked, instead of blowing us off.
    I was thrilled to think that there actually exists an honest to God HONEST Senator when Durbin first showed up, but when he sucked up what he wanted from us and then went on his way without so much as a thank you or, you know, actually doing something FOR us, I realized that I was wrong.
    Durbin is just like the rest of them.

  7. Ann H says:

    E Hamilton, I think he thought he could tap into a source of donations. He should have thought about the vet bills, all the pet food we had to buy and try to get our pets to eat, our food bills, etc. I got aggravated over a statement in his video and wrote to tell him. I guess in truth, there’s not much government wants from citizens unless it’s election time and maybe a new “group” of funds. Business has them after they get in office, not the constituents IMO.

    Color me Disillusioned- and not counting how many times anymore.

  8. Lynne says:

    Durbin caring about pets? He doesn’t care about people.

  9. Radcliff, Allie, Luna, & Ozzie says:

    We would be a lot more excited if this bill didn’t have ‘turban’ Durbin involved.

    E. Hamilton is right — the FDA is desperately trying to sweep these pet food problems under the rug. Giving them even more money and power is futile, and probably foolish.

  10. Elaine says:

    Some of the presidential candidates have addressed the food safety issue. John Edwards came out with a press release about it, and Ron Paul, congressman from Texas has a bill on food safety before congress.

    Ron Paul is getting a lot of publicity on the internet, because the major news media is trying to ignore him and shut him out of the Republican race. Ron Paul WILL NOT vote for any issue that wouldn’t be a constitutional vote! He adheres to our U.S. Constitution without fail.

    Regarding the Durbin bill, I feel that USDA’s meat and poultry should be included. Could it be that the Big Meatpacking lobby has influenced him?! Tyson has plans, (with the USDA’s help, IMO) to begin importing chicken from China this year, and Cargill and others have a presence in China as well.

    And I agree with E. “And giving more money and power to the FDA when the SENATE CANNOT GET THE TRUTH OUT OF THE FDA NOW IS A STUPID IDEA!!!”

    We would be in no worse shape in this country if we were to ABOLISH the FDA! Right now it is up to US to do what we can to ensure the safety of our food supply, and the FDA/USDA is just hampering our ability to do so! Not to say that we don’t need food safety laws, but these agencies ignore laws to pander to Big Business.

  11. elizabeth says:

    Totally agree with the disappointment regarding Durbin. I do credit him for helping get the story out early and for giving it some credibility and sustainability by providing hearings and sound bytes for news media consumption. That was valuable. However, as others here have pointed out, he has not followed through- and this proposal is not the answer. Ya think maybe some big “donors” got to him?

  12. Captn'Carl says:

    E. Hamilton – you are right on the mark!

    The only unfortunate part of this entire campaign was to involve a politician.

    They are just like the media. They suck what they can out of you, parade it around for a short time then dump you like the plague. Users in the truest sense of the term- every last one of them!

    It’s all about votes and power with politicians. They’re no different than the PFI when it comes to honest and above board dealings. They are incapable of honesty. It is not now, nor will it ever be a part of their ethical or moral fiber.

    How do you think they got where they are today? That’s a no-brainer!

    Corruption breeds more corruption. Liars, double dealers and thieves each and every one of them!

    No, it was a huge mistake to involve Doofus Durbin. He is one of the worst.

    For those with very short memories, he was one of the political jackasses just a few short months ago that spoke out against the troops, not the war, but the troops. He is right up there with Jane Fonda! A traitor. Oops! There is no such thing as a traitor anymore. Shame on me! How politically incorrect!

    I bow my head in shame to think that I have allowed myself to become part of something that will become another notch on the belt of such a pompous political ass.

    While it may seem logical to some to “throw in with the devil” and seek the assistance of a bunch of political hacks and lying cutthroats, to further a genuine cause, I cannot continue to “go along” with the program and place my trust in one who has recently betrayed our soldiers. Subsequent apology or not-the statements were made.

    I still believe in this cause and as one who has lost a pet to this travesty, do not see where throwing in with another abuser of power will get us anywhere but deeper in the hole.

    These politicians’ loyalties change every day, depending on who contributes the most to what they really care about. Self-interest-each and every one.

    Republican, Democrat – they’re all the same. None of them are to be trusted to do anything that is not in their immediate self-interest.

    As far as governmental organizations like the FDA, USADA, CIA, FBI- C’mon- are there any of them that have not been recently exposed as incompetent and puppets of our illustrious politicians?

    I know that the class action suit will eventually win over all of the obstacles thrown in our path, but to place trust in any politician is like spitting into the wind.

    Senators, Congressmen, Representatives-they are all on the same agenda, and came from the same corrupt roots.

    In addition to the PFI Case here, what is clearly needed is a serious house cleaning wherein all politicians are replaced by individuals of higher integrity and purpose.

    Years ago, The Soviet Union, Red China and other “Communist” Countries were ostracized and used as pointed examples of how rotten things were there, and how lucky we were in America not to have the lying and corruption that was rampant in those countries.

    Well it has come full circle. We are now equally if not more corrupt and devious than those we were warned about years ago. What a black eye for America!

    Yes. E. Hamilton is absolutely right! 100%! Captn’ Carl

  13. chris says:

    How about the FDA imposing a $10,000 fine per item (can or bag) to companies who have toxic substances in the food they have released to the public. All fines could go directly to the good ole FDA.
    10 toxic bags or 10 toxic cans = $100,000 for you FDA.

    Could be the FDA would be more interested in finding and REALLY testing the products if they they thought they would be making some money on it.

  14. E. Hamilton says:

    I have an idea.

    Let us go gather up all the homeless men and women and run THEM for public office.

    We can call it the RESULT of the Democratic and Republican party system.

    This would get them healthcare, off the streets and Gawd knows they are not any crazier than the ones we have already in office.

    Then the folks who have been hanging on the public tit while screwing us over can go beg under the overpasses.

  15. Elaine says:

    LOLROFLMAOPMP!! So funny, E., and your are right! BTW, the last part of my comment is P my pants, a family addition to the LOL.

  16. E. Hamilton says:

    The more I think about this the better I like the idea of running homeless people for office.

    The homeless need health care a whole lot more than I need to be paying for viagra to boost some drop trou prone politico.

    The media would go into a feeding frenzy that might finally destroy the myth that they are of any use.

    Paris Hilton would probably make a suspiciously well lit “private porn” movie with Clyde from the bowery ( see this is where the health care part comes in - no need for a free clinic- the health care the congress gets KNOWS how to handle VD) for the publicity. Horny old dudes are entitled to some fun, as witness the CURRENT office holders.

    The homeless would spend less taxpayer money on booze and drugs than the current office holders and enjoy it more.
    Hey,I have no problem with someone enjoying themselves, just do not be a hypocrite about it.

    And best of all, the homeless people KNOW what it feels like to be screwed over so they might have some mercy on the rest of us!

    Time for a third party of some kind and why not the homeless? Compared to what we have , how bad could they be?

  17. Maureen says:

    Denise says:
    July 16th, 2007 at 8:41 am

    “not one single Presidential Candidate is addressing this matter on the food import and safety crisis in the country.”

    John Edwards came out with a strong position on food safety and reforming the FDA last week.

  18. Leslie k says:

    I agree with all of you;but do think the co’s or countries sending us products should pay for the testing. We pay for testing of our products going to Europe.Now we just need someone other than the FDA & USDA to be in charge of it.

  19. E. Hamilton says:

    The elected officials we have now are USED to begging for money,( wouldn’t want to spend a dime of the money they have ALREADY screwed the taxpayers out of on the getting elected for the next round would they?) so they should be fine begging under the overpass.
    Not that I care.

    The homeless KNOW how to stretch money to meet needs, as compared to current office holders.

    The homeless are unlikely to pick fights with some other government , plenty of fights right here and I think a few thrown bottles of maddog would improve the speed of things in the legislative branch.

    I doubt the homeless would approve of spending our taxes for ski lodge improvements for the rich (really, this was approved as something tax payers need to fund by the current office holders). Oink Oink pork pork.

    We would not have to hang our heads in shame like we do with our current draft dodging butt buddy pardoning loser who lives the white house.

    Most homeless people really love their pets!

  20. chris says:

    Unfortunatlly we are stuck with the FDA & USDA. Face it, we will never get rid of them.

    The FDA, USDA & US Government wont do anything unless it will benefit them. They dont care that our pet food supply is toxic and they dont care that our food is contaminated. If there is something that would benefit them $$$$$$$ - they may give a RA.

    Give FDA Bonus’s for the inspector who nails 1000 toxic products and fines the companies who produced & sold them. Poor ole FDA is missing the boat on some BIG BIG BUCKS!!!

    I’ll bet I could round up that many in a couple of days.

  21. HomeGrown says:

    They better do something soon, us, our children, and our pets are depending on it. Or perhaps they would rather talk about it until there is no one left to pay their salaries.

    Gerber Cereal Recall

  22. thomas says:

    The USDA & FDA need to be held accountable for their coverups and screw ups. Chance are that any money Durbins idea collected would be used to help Bushie and the crimies finance the Irag war .

    Many homeless people are victims of the system of the USA gov’t and have been beaten and abused by it, many of these people have more integrity than our government officials.

  23. thomas says:

    The USDA & FDA need to be held accountable for their coverups and screw ups. Chance are that any money Durbins idea of collecting money. The money would proably be used to help Bushie and the crimies finance the Irag war .

    Many homeless people are victims of the system of the USA gov’t and have been beaten and abused by it, many of these people have more integrity than our government officials.

  24. E. Hamilton says:

    That is why homeless people need to be in office, they ARE better, would be more careful of the money and they would no longer BE homeless, we could solve a lot of problems and get rid of a lot of lying politicos!

  25. chris says:

    They SHOULD be but they NEVER WILL be.

    That’s an idea Thomas. Tell Bush HE CAN HAVE THE MONEY. Do you think he may feel the need to make mention and consider doing something about it if HE CAN BENEFIT from it?

  26. chris says:

    They SHOULD be but they NEVER WILL be.

  27. Maureen says:

    I can’t remember where info about tomorrow’s/Tuesday’s House of Representatives hearing was originally posted (not Senator Durbin’s committee). At any rate, it will be carried on CSPAN3 at 9:30 a.m. EDT.

    That’s the House of Representatives hearing on food safety and the FDA. There are 3 panels: the 2nd one appears most promising, with a rep. from the Center for Science in the Public Interest and a former FDA chief who has been very critical of the state of today’s FDA.

  28. Stefani says:

    It’s up to us.

    We have to figure out a way to demand that they protect the pet-owning public — heck, not just pet owners, everyone, because we all eat, breathe, and drink.

    I used to have a party, but I don’t anymore. Both parties are corrupt, because politics in this country has become about STAYING IN POWER and HAVING POWER rather than about service. The major candidates in both parties — the better “chance” they have of winning the less sense they make, because they no longer stand for anything. Only the fringe candidates make any sense at all.

    How could it be otherwise when CORPORATIONS, LOBBIES, and PACs are needed by politicians to BUY their way into office?

    The system itself has evolved in such a way as to ENSURE that only sellouts will ever get elected.

    WE are partly responsible for this. We sit in front of the tube and watch the advertising, which pays the networks for the shows that cover (OR DON’T cover, as is more often the case) the news.

    But I digress.

    We need a march on Washington. A huge march on Washington. But not just a protest. We need to have a dumping of pet food. Get a bunch of pet food and dump it in the reflecting pool. (so it won’t hurt the critters living in the tidal basin, of course).

    Dump it on the steps of congress.

    Try to get them to eat it.

    Have videos of dying pets on the steps of the capitol.

    Then, we have to vote with our wallets. By making our own pet food or only buying from small companies who make all their own food and know exactly where everythign comes from.

  29. Katie says:

    I trusted and applauded Senator Durbin, but than it seemed like we were getting used for his agenda. I agree with you all; why throw more money to a gov’t agency that has proven it is incapable and in bed with corporations. That doesn’t help us, the citizens. We really, really need people in Washington that can’t be bought or owned. I agree; why doesn’t the FDA or why can’t they be given the power to slap big fines on countries who import poison here. But, I guess I can answer that….probably because than there would be bribes. Which begs the question: how do you make them all honest??? I would like to believe Senator Durbin is being above board and trying to make a difference - maybe he is just finding it hard to walk in “shark infested water”.


  30. dogmom 3 says:

    If I can remember correctly, there is no constitutional law saying we as american citizens have to pay taxes. Years ago it needed five states to ratify and only one signed on. I could be wrong somewhat (too much info in the ol’ noodle). Our tax dollars as we know are totally wasted but yet they need more and more and more. Government and politicians are fully corrupt, full of greed and empty promises. Just think if millions of americans refused to pay taxes anymore. Hit em where it really hurts. Human beings only have so much blood and when we are bled dry then what?

  31. Sandy says:

    MAYBE He knows this is the BEST he can do, Face it they are NEVER going to do away with the FDA. At least it is something and maybe doable. If he wanted to rid of the FDA….NOBODY would listen to him. I never expected the man to get rid of the FDA I too hate the lack of brains and corruption at the FDA

  32. HomeGrown says:

    I know the instinct is to lash out at the inaction we see, but please, we need ANYONE who is willing to speak on our behalf. If any of you ever watch CSPAN1 or CSPAN2 you might be willing to cut Sen. Durbin some slack. Congress and the Senate talk, talk, then talk some more and hardly ever get anything done. Sometimes it appears to me most of them just like to hear their own voices. I still believe Sen. Durbin and Congresswoman DeLauro would like to see action and say they have been fighting for Food Safety for 10 yrs. But the vote is not theirs alone and they have to deal with many others. The stonewalling and corruption goes right up the ladder to the president, but that doesn’t mean some aren’t promoting our cause. In my opinion they just can’t get anything done.

  33. E. Hamilton says:

    I might be willing to cut Durbin some slack if he had done ONE thing that he needs no cooperation from anyone else to do- get up in front of the media and KILL THE 16 OFFICIAL deaths lie.

    It would take about 5 minutes and would earn him lasting fame.
    Make a big enough deal about treating the American people right and he could be elected president! people would be so grateful, once they got over the shock of a politician not screwing them over.
    Here is how it could go.

    Yo MEDIA listen up!
    The 16 “official ” pet deaths so frequently reported by the media were test animals killed by Menu Foods- they were not the beloved pets of American citizens, whose pets died in numbers in the thousands and many thousands more pets are damaged for life. The costs these American citizens paid in money for vet bills is staggering and a significant hardship. The costs in heartbreak and tears is beyond calculation. The pet parents who suffered such losses alerted the entire country to a very significant threat to the food safety of this country and deserve our thanks rather than to be insulted by having their sacrifice minimized. It is a unkind twisting of the knife in the wound to under report the number of deaths. It is a nasty thing to do, quit . Dr. Stephen Sundlof has said that the media is misquoting him, that the FDA is aware that the numbers of pet deaths are in the thousands. Since the Senate cannot get a straight answer out of the FDA, and pet parents are resorting to paying for private testing of pet food due to mistrust of the FDA, this situation is unacceptable and the media can feel free to take that issue up with Sunny.
    When I asked these pet parents to assist in my plans to help make the American food systems safer, these citizens who had already paid a heavy price responded quickly and did as I asked and I thank them. That is all.

    Less than 5 minutes. I timed it.

  34. E. Hamilton says:

    Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I have NO IDEA about what other views Durbin holds on ANY issue. Not a clue.
    And do not care, he could be in favor of compulsory head shaving and I would not blink, there are plenty of certified nutjobs in congress, somebody in some district bought enough of their bull to elect em and not much about politics shocks me after the last few months.
    All I ask is that the man who came here and asked for help, which was provided, have the decency to do right by us in this ONE thing.

    I aint just dancing happy with any political party, politician or public official these days. Just being an American right now is hard for me to bear on a daily basis and the nightmare of lies and cover up and betrayal that has been my life since March, December 06 if you count the first pet of mine that died, is about all I can handle.

    Nonetheless, a U.S. Senator came here and asked help and I gave it, I saw it as my duty to give it and I think a 5 minute press release is not much to ask in return. I can’t expect justice, I am not so foolish that I expect that in America anymore. I don’t expect to get respect for being a good citizen, caring for my neighbors, voting ( and yes, I KNOW my vote does not count , I know that), doing jury duty when called to it, what I was raised to do. I don’t like being told to bend the knee to folks who hang on the public tit and I am not real pleased that we have a King after that fuss with England about 200 years ago, but I do my best to hope for better days.

    So leave me out of the Republican versus Democrat debate because I can’t find a dimes difference between em.

  35. Maureen says:

    The House hearing on the FDA and food safety begins at 9:30 a.m. EDT — minutes from now (Tuesday).


    I don’t have the schedule yet as to whether it will be replayed tonight on CSPAN. There was a great call in show and discussion with the chairman of the committee, Rep. Bart Stupak, Dem, that just concluded. Don’t miss it if it’s replayed tonight.

    E., if this call in show is repeated tonight on CSPAN, you might want to hear Rep. Stupak’s answers to callers about the votes in Congress during the past 2 years that have made the FDA what it is today. It’s one thing to paint with a broad brush, but you should know your facts if you want changes going forward.

  36. E. Hamilton says:

    Maureen, the FDA has lied or covered up so many times in the past few months that I have been watching that I have no idea what on earth you are talking about, did I MISS a lie or two? Big deal, they will lie again.

    Do you think congress voted and said LIE and cover up? When we ask questions please just don’t answer, or hide the info?
    Maybe they did. It would not surprise me.
    It would take more than a vote in congress to make ME lie and cover up for a big company and a big company that sells a killing product does not have the power to destroy my morals. They just don’t. I know that people who will sell their votes cheap infest our government, I did not elect them.
    And will not so much as shake hands socially with them.

    That is not a broad brush, that is the way it is. Either people lie, or they don’t, can be bought or cannot.

    You do not see any posts of mine calling for food safety because I no longer believe that it will ever be safer. Paying MORE to be lied to? there I draw the line. Giving more money and power to an agency that abuses what power and money they have now? Nah, not going to support it.
    If the FDA held a news conference and told the truth about how many pets died, thousands and that thousands more were damaged for life AND IF THEY HAD DONE THAT INSTEAD OF LYING AND COVERING UP FOR 4 FREAKING MONTHS then things might be different.

  37. sandi says:

    Laughable, what companies do Biden’s sons lobby for??

    This is the problem, the law was put in place in 2002, but, due to dems and republicans who lobby for Food companies, we are food that is really unsafe.

    It is the lobbyists, like Dole, Clinton, on and on


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