Statement of Rep. Eshoo Regarding H.R. 4167, the National Uniformity for Food Act

April 24, 2006
In The News

Statement of Rep. Anna G. Eshoo
Regarding H.R. 4167, the National Uniformity for Food Act
March 2, 2006

Mr. Chairman, I rise to oppose this bill. It is an assault on public health and consumer protection.

It's no wonder there's never been a hearing on this bill in the last 8 years.

The bill will preempt any state or local food safety law that is not identical to a federal law.

Under this bill, the FDA must approve any state food safety law that is at variance with federal policy.

According to the CBO, the bill will preempt an estimated 200 state and local laws dealing with food safety.

It will cost the FDA $100 million over the next 5 years to process petitions from states seeking to retain these laws.

There is simply no credible public health justification for the extraordinary steps this bill takes.

The Attorney General of California has weighed in against this bill, and I ask unanimous consent that his memorandum to the California delegation be made part of the Record.

State departments of agriculture as well as state and local food safety officials from all 50 states oppose the bill because they believe it hampers their ability to protect the public from hazards in the food supply, even potential bioterrorist attacks.

These state and local officials are responsible for conducting 80% of the food safety inspections in the country, and yet today we're diminishing their ability to carry out their important role.

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, which represents every state department of agriculture, wrote, "The preemption of state and local food safety programs would leave a critical gap in the safety net that protects consumers."

The Association of Food and Drug Officials wrote that "the bill will preempt states and local food safety and defense programs from performing their functions to protect citizens."

Equally disturbing, the bill will scale back state laws designed to protect pregnant women and children from potential hazards in foods. Why would we ever take such a step?

Reps. Capps, Waxman, Stupak, and I have introduced an amendment that among other things will allow states to protect public health by issuing their own requirements for notifications about foods and food additives that carry a risk of birth defects and reproductive health problems.

If the Majority determines they want to force this bill through, I hope we'll be given the opportunity to offer our amendment.

But truthfully, I hope that they simply preempt their bill.