(Oct. 3, 2:30 p.m.) As she promised attendees of the Washington Public Policy Conference earlier in the month, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., introduced legislation to create a Food Safety Administration within the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, mandate traceability and create new food safety oversight throughout the supply chain.

DeLauro introduced the bill, the Food Safety Modernization Act, Sept. 26, the same day the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report critical of the FDA for its oversight of produce safety.

Most industry observers don’t expect any action on food safety legislation until next year, when a new Congress and White House administration are in place.

“I think given who she is, it is something we need to take very seriously,” said Nancy Foster, president of the U.S. Apple Association, Vienna, Va.

Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy for the United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C., said the legislation tries to reframe the debate over a single food safety agency and requires mandatory traceability.

“It’s more of a marker bill for next year, but it is one those bills that are foundational legislation for the next Congress,” he said.

DeLauro’s bill would mandate that the Food Safety Administration:

  • base the national food safety program on comprehensive evaluation of foods based on risks;

  • implement a national system for regular unannounced inspection of food establishments;

  • implement a system of registration of food establishments and foreign food establishments;

  • implement a sampling program to monitor industry safeguards on the food supply;

  • implement appropriate surveillance on imported food; and

  • coordinate with other agencies and state and local governments when performing inspections, enforcement, research and monitoring responsibilities.

DeLauro’s traceback requirements call for establishment of a national traceability system that allows the Food Safety Administration access to the history, use and location of food throughout production, processing and distribution. The traceability requirement applies to food from production facilities, food establishments and foreign food establishments.