Senators and Representatives have introduced legislation that would give the FDA and CDC the authority to enter feedlots and collect samples during foodborne illness outbreaks.
Federal agencies currently cannot collect samples from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) unless the operator voluntarily grants access. According to Sen. Cory Booker of R.I. and Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, this has hindered investigations into foodborne illness outbreaks, particularly those related to leafy vegetables grown next to CAFOs.
They introduced the Expanded Food Safety Investigations Act (EFSIA), which would authorize the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to collect microbial samples from CAFOs during outbreaks and when there is a public health need. ing. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, is a co-sponsor of the bill.
The bill has broad support from consumer groups.
“These farms are part of our food system and can be a source of disease. They should not be allowed to slam the barn door shut when public health investigators come looking for answers. No,” said Sarah Sorsher, director of regulation at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Booker and DeLauro argue that harmful bacteria from animal production facilities can contaminate agricultural fields and pose an ongoing threat to consumers. For example, during the 2018 romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak investigation, the FDA tracked the resulting E. coli strain to an irrigation canal near an intensive feeding operation for 100,000 cows. The FDA also determined in 2019 that nearby cattle were likely the source of E. coli associated with romaine lettuce.
“Despite these dangers to public health posed by animals in this country’s food system, public health agencies like the FDA and CDC do not have the authority to go into (animal) farms and act on them. Microbial sampling limits our ability to fully investigate and understand the problem. The livestock industry also prevents investigators from accessing farms during outbreaks, which further impedes efforts to identify sources and develop preventive measures,” Booker said in the proposed bill. He said this when announcing.
Booker also said the bill would increase transparency in the nation’s food system.
DeLauro agreed, saying that corporate animal agriculture poses a risk to the nation’s food supply that could be alleviated if the FDA had the authority to more thoroughly investigate foodborne illness outbreaks. .
“It is clear that corporate consolidation is having a negative impact on our nation’s food safety,” DeLauro said. “The situation is made worse by a weak and disempowered FDA, which has few tools to hold companies accountable, investigate outbreaks, and remove contaminated food from the market. Under the law, multinational companies can stop FDA food poisoning investigations in their tracks. That’s intolerable.”
This legislation is supported by the following organizations: George Washington University Antibiotic Resistance Action Center, Center for Food Safety, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Reports, Environmental Working Group, Food Animal Concerns Trust, Food & Water Watch, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council, Stop Foodborne Diseases.
You can read the full text of the bill here here.