In July, the House of Representatives passed the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, and the Senate will mark up similar legislation next week.
Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), who introduced his own food safety legislation along with Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), titled the Eat Safe Act (S.B. 429), said smuggled food is a major safety problem and will work to have that part of his bill incorporated into the Senate's final version.
"These smuggled food and agricultural products . . . pose a threat to our economy and security," he said. "The legislation I have would authorize funding for the Department of Agriculture and the FDA to bolster their efforts by hiring additional personnel to detect and track smuggled products."
Hedberg said the most important investments in the food safety system will be increased surveillance, which "will go a long way toward creating a framework from which we can do long-term assessments of cases to come up with better answers as to the frequency and the overall impact of these diseases."
"Then, we'll have much better tools to figure out how best to prevent and mitigate harm from these infections," he added.
Roberts said foodborne illness "must be recognized as a serious public health issue if we want to make meaningful progress in reducing sickness, injury, death, and long-term complications associated with foodborne disease."