True Scope of Legislation Remains Murky

WASHINGTON (March 7, 2006) -- More than 200 state food safety and public health protections would likely be eliminated if the so-called "National Uniformity for Food Act" (H.R. 4167) goes into effect, according to a new report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on this legislation as early as tomorrow. Originally scheduled for last Thursday, the vote was postponed until this week because of growing opposition to the bill.

The report, "Shredding the Food Safety Net," evaluates how many and which state laws would be preempted by this bill. For example, it would preempt numerous state safety standards for milk, shellfish, and other foods, and laws authorizing inspection and protection of certain foods, restaurants, and food service establishments.

Download the report (140 KB pdf).

The legislation would virtually eradicate approximately 200 current state food safety and labeling laws, and would likely block about 40 future state food laws, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates. It also would enact the most sweeping overhaul of food safety laws since at least the 1950s. And yet because Congress held no hearings on this ambiguous and complex proposal that is being aggressively pushed by special interests in the food industry the exact scope of the bill is unknown.