Sept. 15 2011 08:17 AM

In an effort to strengthen food safety in the U.S., Senator Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced a bill to improve consumer confidence and focus attentions on emerging pathogens.

As dairy producers, it is inevitable that we will eventually become beef producers. When the decision is made to remove a cow from the herd, be it for low production, old age, or the inability to get her bred, she more than likely will end up in the food supply. To protect our industry and the end consumer of our product, it is important we do our best to minimize foodborne diseases whether it is through strengthened biosecurity measures or more accurate record keeping.

On September 8, 2011, Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced a bill aimed at reforming food safety at the USDA. The bill, introduced with no cosponsors, would widen the definition of adulterated meat, poultry, and egg products. The bill also adds criminal penalties for manufacturers that knowingly release contaminated food products.

The bill serves dual purposes, to modernize the Food Safety and Inspection Service giving them more control over hazards in regulated food and improve consumer confidence in the food supply chain. The bill also targets emerging pathogens, such as antibiotic-resistant Salmonella, that may place a larger number of people at risk for a foodborne illness.

The purposes of the bill are to:

1. Establish an effective, preventive food safety system administered by the Food Safety and Inspection Service by regulating food safety and labeling to protect public health, focusing attention on emerging pathogens in the food supply, participating with the FDA in an integrated approach and providing an integrated food safety research capability in cooperation with academic institutions

2. Modernize and strengthen the Federal food safety system to ensure more effective application and efficient management of the laws for the protection and improvement of public health

3. Establish that food establishments have responsibility to ensure that all stages of production, processing, and distribution of the products of the food establishments, or under the control of the food establishments, satisfy the requirements of this Act.

The full text of the bill was made available yesterday. Click here to see the full bill.

Gillibrand also spent a good portion of her summer visiting with farmers throughout New York to learn about their needs in the 2012 Farm Bill.