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Reversing preemption, one bill at a time

Reacting to the sale of salmonella-contaminated peanut butter, Rep. John Dingell has introduced a bill that, as the Washington Post describes it, "would give the FDA more money and authority over food safety, including the power to issue mandatory recalls of contaminated food."

The Dingell bill is H.R. 759, the Food and Drug Administration Globalization Act of 2009. House Energy and Commerce holds an oversight hearing into the salmonella outbreak on February 11.

A key provision is "SEC. 2. RELATIONSHIP TO STATE LAW."

This Act and the amendments made by this Act may not be construed as modifying or otherwise affecting any action or the liability of any person (as defined in section 201 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act) under the law of any State.

The anti-preemption language explains, at least in part, the American Association for Justice's support for the legislation, which AAJ hailed in a news release saying:

"With the onslaught of reports of contaminated spinach, tomatoes, beef, pet food, and now peanut butter, it is clear increased funding and authority is needed at the FDA like Congressman Dingell's legislation provides," said Bill Marler, a food safety attorney and member of the American Association for Justice's Foodborne Illness Litigation Group.

"However, the revelation the peanut manufacturer responsible for the salmonella outbreak knowingly endangered consumers by selling product they knew was harmful shows why FDA enforcement is not enough," added Marler. "The increased inspections and civil justice penalties provided by this legislation go hand-in-hand with the right to hold wrongdoers accountable for the food they sell and profit from," added Marler. "We are glad Congressman Dingell included language to protect the right of consumers to seek justice on these issues in the court system."

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.