According to The New York Times, the legislation “would greatly strengthen the Food and Drug Administration, an agency that in recent decades focused more on policing medical products than ensuring the safety of foods. The bill is intended to get the government to crack down on unsafe foods before they harm people rather than after outbreaks occur.”
Over the past year and half of the bill’s development, Senator David Vitter of Louisiana has worked to add and support some important provisions for Louisiana, including one that he believes “will put the brakes on any moves by FDA” to enforce post-harvest processing of oysters.
For example, explains senior legislative assistant Chris Stanley, the FDA would have to provide a detailed assessment of the costs of any new post-harvest processing rules; the projected health benefits of the proposed change; projected impact on sales, cost and availability of oysters; and so on.
Gulf states currently produce two-thirds of the country’s oysters.
The legislation also beefs up enforcement and testing of foreign seafood imports.
Mike Voisin, CEO of Motivatit Seafood in Houma, Louisiana, one of America’s largest oyster processors, says he’s happy to “have something in there to protect oyster processors and, ultimately, consumers.”
He explains that the FDA announced last October that it would begin requiring post-harvest processing, a move that “would have shut down the oyster community around the country,” says Voisin. A more common-sense approach — and one the new legislation embraces — is following the process established in 1927 as part of the National Shellfish Sanitation Program, which ensures food safety within the oyster processing industry.
Says Voisin, “We’re excited that senators Landrieu and Vitter were able to get an amendment in that allows us to keep working through that process.”
Read the full New York Times story here.