Single food safety agency proposed

Legislation has been introduced in both the House and Senate to establish an independent food safety agency. It would consolidate all food safety, inspection and labeling functions now spread among various government agencies.

The new agency would be created from USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, and EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs. Bill sponsors Sens. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) and Reps. Vic Fazio (D-CA) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ) say the new agency would be more efficient and would eliminate the confusion, overlap, duplication of effort and gaps that often characterize present food safety efforts. Food industry organizations reacted cautiously to the proposal. The National Food Processors Assn. said it would welcome the initiative if its focus is to enhance the food safety system "through sound science, common sense regulations, and nationally uniform standards." The Grocery Manufacturers of America said the "merits of a single food agency need to be carefully considered."

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