Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.) will introduce legislation to create a single agency to oversee the nation’s food safety, framing the issue as paramount to national security.

The legislation would provide for the merger of existing agencies, creating efficiencies and better oversight. Similar egislation was previously introduced in 1999, 2004, 2005, and 2007; those efforts stalled.

The pair offered a preview of what such legislation might contain in an op-ed piece published last week in The Hill

Durbin and DeLauro write this:

“To understand the potential scale of the problem, consider this: 48 million people —1 in 6 Americans—will likely get sick from food borne disease this year. Roughly 128,000 of those will be so sick they will need hospitalization. Three thousand will die.

The way we eat today is changing.  Our food is traveling farther to get from the farm to our dinner tables.  Large amounts are even being imported from overseas.  More of the food we consume is processed or prepared outside the home.”

Durbin and DeLauro reference a government response to a 2010 salmonella outbreak as a case study of an ineffective, fragmented food safety system that has major gaps. There are no fewer than fifteen federal agencies tasked with some aspect of food safety. Durbin and DeLauro argue that “Without major structural reforms and funding increases, our fragmented, uncoordinated food safety system will continue to jeopardize public health.”


@SenatorDurbin Dick Durbin is the senior senator from Illinois, and currently serves as the Senate Minority Whip. He has served in the senate since 1997.

@rosadelauro Rosa DeLauro represents Connecticut’s 3rd Congressional District, a seat she has held since 1991. She also sits on the Appropriations Committee.