The Food Safety Modernization Act is the first overhaul of the nation’s food safety system in more than 70 years. Nowhere is the legislation more ambitious than in provisions regarding the safety of imported food.
A bill (S. 216) introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) that would enhance penalties for contaminating food supplies has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and will now go before a vote in the full Senate.The bill would make the crime of intentionally adulterating or misbranding food, drugs, tobacco products, or cosmetics a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Those who knowingly introduce such products into the food supply would face the same penalty. In his introductory remarks, Leahy noted that such activities are already illegal but they are misdemeanors and rarely result in jail time. He also noted that fines and recalls have become so frequent that they are considered “merely the cost of doing business.”