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GMA Statement on Draft Food Safety Legislation Released by House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman, Congressman Henry Waxman

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) issued the following statement by its President and CEO Pamela G. Bailey in response to draft food safety legislation released today by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman, Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA):

“Food safety is our number one priority and we share the broad goals of the draft legislation released today by Chairman Waxman. The bill contains many of GMA’s food safety proposals, and we look forward to working with the Chairman to enact food safety legislation that makes prevention of contamination the foundation of our food safety strategies.

“At the urging of industry and consumer groups, Congress has already increased food safety spending from $439 million to $649 million over the last three years. If Congress enacts the FY 2010 request proposed by FDA and the Obama Administration, FDA’s food safety appropriations would increase to $783 million – an increase of more than 78% in just four years. Those appropriated funds would allow the FDA to more frequently inspect every food manufacturing facility in the nation. We are concerned that the draft legislation released today by Chairman Waxman proposes significant new fees on food companies and ultimately consumers at a time when they can least afford it and in the face of an unprecedented increase in appropriated funding for FDA food safety activities. In addition, like many consumer groups, we are concerned about the inherent conflict of interest created by asking industry to fund government inspections. We are also concerned about provisions that increase the cost of food without improving the safety of the food supply.

“Industry and government both have unique and important roles when it comes to food safety. Because consumer confidence is the foundation of everything we do, manufacturers take food safety very seriously and invest their reputations and resources in producing safe products. Likewise, strong government oversight is a critical and necessary part of our nation’s food safety net.

“Our industry is increasing its investment in food safety and is prepared to make additional investments to continually improve the safety of our food supplies. We look forward to working with the Committee to enact food safety legislation that boosts consumer confidence and addresses the challenges posed by today’s global and complex food supply.”