President Obama in his fiscal 2016 budget proposal again asked for the authority to create a single food safety agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  This comes on the heels of Senator Dick Durbin (D-Il) and Representative Rosa DeLauro’s (D-CT) January 29th introduction of a bill that would create an independent single food safety agency.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) signaled immediate opposition. “In this tough economy, the last thing producers and consumers need is more red tape,” Roberts was quoted as saying in the Associated Press.

National Chicken Council Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, Ashley Peterson, Ph.D., offered the following comments on the proposals:

Over the years, various legislative proposals have been introduced in Congress  that would reorganize the government’s food safety functions either by combining the responsibilities of FDA, USDA, and other agencies into a single food agency or establishing a food agency within HHS.  However, it would be more productive, effective, and efficient to facilitate improved coordination and communication between the existing agencies with food safety jurisdiction rather than focus on changing names on government office doors.

Meat, poultry, and egg products regulated by USDA are fundamentally different from other products regulated by FDA.  All USDA-regulated products receive continuous inspection as mandated by law and funded by Congress.

Food safety is the number one priority for the chicken industry.  U.S. chicken companies have demonstrated continuous improvement and we are committed to working with the administration and Congress to take food safety to the next level.

Whether our food supply is regulated under one roof or several, what makes food safer is investment in science, technology, research, and education.