U.S. Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) have recently introduced a bill that, if passed, would create a new independent federal agency focused on food safety, including duties such as inspections, outbreak response, and research. The bill, titled, “Food Safety Administration Act of 2022,” would establish a new Food Safety Administration within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), taking the responsibility of food safety away from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The bill would unify existing FDA food programs within the new Food Safety Administration: the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, the Center for Veterinary Medicine, and the Office of Regulatory Affairs.

According to Rep. DeLauro and Sen. Durbin, the motivation behind the bill comes from the way in which food safety takes a backseat to drug safety at FDA. They believe that inattention to food safety has led to recalls, supply chain disruptions, inflation, and consumer illness and death. Rep. DeLauro pointed to the recent infant formula supply crisis as an example. It is the legislators’ hope that creating a single food safety agency led by a Senate-approved food policy expert will more effectively ensure the safety of the U.S. food supply.

Cosponsors of the bill are Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Rep. Nannette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Rep. Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Rep. Gwen Moore (WI-04), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12). Nonprofit organizations endorsing the bill include the Center for Food Safety, the Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Reports, Defend Our Health, the Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, Healthy Babies Bright Futures, STOP Foodborne Illness, and the Center for Environmental Health.