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Harkin: Salmonella Outbreak Demonstrates Urgency of Passing Comprehensive Food Safety Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) released the following statement today after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched an investigation into findings of Salmonella Tennessee in hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) manufactured by Basic Food Flavors, Inc., in Las Vegas. HVP is a commonly used ingredient used as a flavor enhancer in many processed foods, including soups, sauces, chilis, stews, hot dogs, gravies, seasoned snack foods, dips and dressings. 

“Consumers should not have to think twice about the safety of a food item when they reach into their pantry. Unfortunately, our nation’s food safety system is outdated, lacks proper resources and, quite simply, does not adequately protect American consumers.  This most recent outbreak demonstrates once again that we cannot wait any longer to pass comprehensive food safety legislation.

“Fortunately no one was made ill with this most recent case of Salmonella, but we are not always so lucky.  We must give FDA the tools to prevent a food borne illness outbreak before it happens, rather than react when it is already too late.  And when food is tainted, we must provide the tools to respond quickly and protect consumers.  Both the House and Senate bills do just that and it is my hope that we can have a comprehensive food safety bill on the President’s desk in the very near future.”

Harkin is the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.  On November 18, 2009 the Committee reported out S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, without a single dissenting vote.