11.06.07

ENZI: PANEL’S RECOMMENDATIONS ON IMPORT SAFETY A GOOD START TO IMPROVE SAFETY OF IMPORTED FOODS, PRODUCTS

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-WY, Ranking Member of theSenate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP Committee), today saidhe is encouraged by many of the recommendations issued by the President’s InteragencyWorking Group on Import Safety and reaffirmed his commitment to develop acomprehensive response to improve the safety of all food in the United States and betterprotect consumers and their families. “I will be studying in detail Secretary Michael Leavitt’s report as I work on acomprehensive approach to improve the safety of the food we eat,” Enzi said. “Of thesefifty suggestions for food safety, many concentrate on the high priority areas – those mostsusceptible to problems. Other recommendations would provide more transparency onwhich companies and food products are safe – and which are not. They would establishbest practices and provide some incentives.” Enzi said Congress will take an active role in working with all stakeholders in thisissue to develop a legislative proposal on food safety but cautioned that a soundlegislative solution will require a bipartisan effort. “I appreciate Secretary Leavitt's diligence in completing crucial tasks. AsGovernor, and now as Secretary, he has shown tremendous ability to focus on what isimportant now and to deliver results with clarity. I have learned much from SecretaryLeavitt’s insights on previous issues, particularly health information technology, and Ilook forward to reviewing these recommendations thoroughly as the HELP Committeeconducts its own examination of these issues.” The President’s Interagency Working Group on Import Safety today laid out astrategic approach to improve the safety of imported products, particularly food. Healthand Human Services Secretary Leavitt chairs the panel. “When Americans purchase a snack, eat at a restaurant, or sit down to dinner withtheir families, they should be able to expect that the food they eat will not make themsick. We need to restore that faith, and I am working with my colleagues to develop acomprehensive, effective strategy to enhance food safety.” The Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007, signed into law inSeptember, takes the first steps to address the critical issue of food safety. It includes aprovision authored by Senator Enzi and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) to establishstandards for pet food and set up early warning systems for any problems with pet foods.It improves communication systems about all food recalls, and coordinates state andfederal activities on fresh and processed produce. Finally, the new law creates a databaseof instances of tainted food so that FDA can better track patterns of problems and targetits limited resources to where they are most needed. ####

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