A wholesome reform

Major national food safety overhaul hits the mark.

Daily Editorial Board

Not many measures on the U.S. SenateâÄôs so-called âÄúlame duckâÄù agenda have the potential to save a lot of lives anytime soon. But passage of the FDA Food Safety and Modernization Act might do just that.
The main thrust of the legislation, which is set against the backdrop of a recent series of nasty, far-reaching contaminations, is to empower the generally weak Food and Drug Administration. It grants that agency new powers of inspection, recall and oversight. It also holds imported foods up to U.S. safety standards.
In this time of deadlock, the bill is a major bipartisan achievement and a strong step forward on this vitally important issue. It even enjoyed significant support from major food producers, who seem to recognize âÄî if only on their bottom lines âÄî the value of public trust in the food system.
In Minnesota, where agriculture accounts for a whopping 14 percent of personal employment and income, food is big business, and keeping it safe helps both our health and our economy. Among the billâÄôs supporters were Minnesota-based Cargill, Hormel Foods and General Mills. Despite this fact and Sen. Amy KlobucharâÄôs championing of the bill, the national legislation may not be as important to Minnesota as to other states âÄî weâÄôre known for having particularly robust preventative food-safety measures.
This bill could do more in terms of providing for adequate funding and eliminating longstanding redundancies between the FDA and other agencies, and may still face hurdles. But itâÄôs been 70 years since our last major reform on this issue, and it would be a mistake to wait one more.