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In refusing to consider the National Uniformity for Food Act (S. 3128) before the end of the 109th Congress, the U.S. Senate rejected an attempt to weaken America’s food safety system. The bill, supported by powerful food manufacturers, would have implemented sweeping changes to America’s food safety system by preempting hundreds of state and local food safety protections.
Recent outbreaks of E. coli demonstrate the need for more vigilance over the safety of our food supply, not less. The National Uniformity for Food Act would have turned back the clock on decades of progress to improve food quality and protect public health by cutting state and local governments out of the food safety equation.
In March 2006, the House approved its version of the National Uniformity for Food Act. Had the U.S. Senate also agreed to the bill, more than 200 food safety laws across the country would have been eliminated without the establishment of any new protections to fill the void.
Protecting the safety of the food supply in the United States is a responsibility currently shared by local, state and federal partners. Federal safety standards provide some basic health protections but states and municipalities, which are often more nimble and capable of responding quickly to localized public health concerns, fill important gaps left open by federal standards.
Instead of promoting this important state-federal partnership, the National Uniformity for Food Act would have relegated food safety decisions in all 50 states to an increasingly under-funded, overburdened and unresponsive federal agency. In addition, states and localities would have been prevented from issuing food warnings and notifications to consumers.
Arizona PIRG, joined by 39 state Attorneys General, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and the Association of Food and Drug Officials, opposed the legislation. Fortunately for American consumers, the U.S. Senate effectively discarded the attack on food safety by refusing to vote on the legislation before the end of the 109th Congress. Arizona PIRG stands prepared to oppose any resurgence of this attack on state and local food safety protections.
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