U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer today urged Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to support their appeal when it comes to the Senate for consideration. The legislation, National Uniformity for Food Act, passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee last December and is awaiting a vote on the House Floor.
"Consumers in California and across the country deserve to know if their food contains chemicals that cause cancer or birth defects," Feinstein said. "This legislation would preempt efforts at the State and local level to provide consumers with confidence that the food they eat is safe. This legislation recklessly endangers the health of Americans and I will do everything in my power to oppose it when it comes before the Senate."
"Californians decided years ago that they wanted to know what dangerous chemicals were in their food when they passed Prop 65," Boxer said. "This legislation shows no respect for the efforts of states to provide consumers with greater protections, and I will work to see that it is defeated."
Under current law, State and local governments can enact legislation creating food safety regulations stronger than those required by federal law. The National Uniformity for Food Act would roll back more than 150 food safety laws in all 50 states designed to protect the health of consumers.
California voters, for instance, approved Proposition 65, which has bee used to protect millions of Californians from dangerous levels of lead in candies imported from Mexico. The legislation would also preempt California's ongoing efforts to assure that parents and women of childbearing age are aware of the risks to unborn children and infants from consuming too much fish with high levels of mercury.
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer also had warned that a federal food-safety bill would threaten public health by jeopardizing states' efforts to regulate toxics such as lead in candy and mercury in fish, according to local media. (See ID Access webnews of Feb. 13.)