Tester to FDA: More needs to be done to improve food safety

Senate’s only working farmer calls for more communication between producers and regulators

(U.S. SENATE) – The Senate’s only working farmer, Jon Tester, today demanded that more needs to be done to empower consumers and make food safety regulations work for small producers.

During a Senate Agriculture Appropriations hearing Tester called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to better identify the ingredients that are in food. With the commitment that the FDA would improve food safety without burdening small producers, Tester voiced his support for the $300 million increase for food safety included in the Administration’s budget request.

“Folks deserve to know what ingredients are in their food-which ingredients are good for them and which are going to kill them,” Tester told FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg. “I want to support your efforts to keep our food safe, but we need to do it in a way that meets the needs of producers and consumers.”

Tester urged the FDA to increase communication between producers and FDA inspectors who regulate local farms to ensure that producers are treated fairly.

“Inspectors need to be trained properly and producers need a plan in place to voice inconsistencies. Folks need to have recourse and hold inspectors accountable,” Tester added.

In January, Tester urged the FDA to properly implement his amendment as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) to ensure small farming operations are not overburdened by new regulations while still promoting a safer food supply. Tester recently introduced bipartisan legislation requiring the labeling of genetically engineered food and last Congress he successfully repealed a provision, known as the “Monsanto Protection Act,” that directed USDA to ignore any judicial ruling that blocked the planting of genetically modified crops.

Overall, the Administration’s proposed FDA budget for fiscal year 2016 is a 9 percent increase above 2015 funding levels.