Food, Drug, and Medical Device Safety

With 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, and over 3,000 deaths each year in the United States because of foodborne disease, food safety affects us all.  Rosa champions policies to strengthen our food safety system and, as a senior member of the subcommittee that funds the Food and Drug Administration and Agriculture Committee, supports investments that ensure the safety of our food.  The quality and safety of our food affects how our children do in school, how our workforce performs, how our economy grows, and, most importantly, how healthy we are. Rosa co-chairs the bipartisan Congressional Food Safety Caucus, which fights for improvements in how we prevent foodborne illness.

Food Safety Modernization Act
Rosa is a leader in writing the Food Safety Modernization Act, which became law in 2011.  That bill contained several key provisions she championed, including mandating regular inspections of high-risk industrial food facilities, requiring food companies to take preventive measures, establishing a better system for tracing food, and demanding that imported food meet our safety standards.

As the Food Safety Modernization Act is implemented, Rosa is working to ensure that the new rules and regulations protect the health of American consumers.  She also works to improve the safety of meat and poultry food products.  And with the ever-increasing quantity of imported foods, Rosa fights for the resources and authorities needed to make sure that these foods are safe for consumers, and that our relationships with other countries make food safety a priority. 

Streamlining our Food Safety System
Rosa feels that in order for our nation’s food supply to be safe, we must change the fractured state it currently resides in.  Responsibility for food safety is stretched across 15 federal agencies responsible for enforcing at least 30 laws.  This fragmentation cannot efficiently respond to the safety problems of today’s global and complex world.  That is why she has long sponsored legislation that would establish a single food safety agency with a comprehensive and coordinated mission to protect America’s families from foodborne illness.

Drug and Medical Device Safety
The safety and effectiveness of medications in the United States is a critical component of the nation’s healthcare system.  Almost 40 percent of drugs taken in the United States are produced overseas and 80 percent of all drug ingredients come from foreign countries.  Americans trust and rely on these products to take care of themselves and their families.  Rosa works to ensure that the FDA can regulate, test, and assure the safety of the drugs that are used in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and homes across the country.

She also believes that addressing drug shortages must be a priority.  With the number of drug shortages climbing and a shortage of more than 250 drugs in 2011 alone, this problem affects thousands of cancer patients, patients undergoing anesthesia, emergency room patients, and many others.  Rosa supports Congressional actions to reverse the shortage trend and is working with the FDA to find real solutions to this complex problem.

Medical device safety is another critical area in which Rosa works to protect American patients.  Medical devices range from bandages and tongue depressors to tanning beds, pacemakers, and artificial joint implants.  She is working to ensure the safety and efficacy of the approval processes for medical devices, as well as for improved safety standards, post-market surveillance, and appropriate classification and labeling of medical devices to protect patients and consumers.  In the case of tanning beds, she is actively working to ensure that tanning beds are appropriately classified and regulated by the FDA.  Currently tanning beds are classified in the same regulatory category as bandages and cotton swabs, products that are generally recognized as safe.  This is despite of the fact that tanning beds are considered to be cancer causing devices by the World Health Organization and studies have shown that using tanning beds before the age of thirty increases your risk for developing melanoma skin cancer by 75 percent.  Rosa has introduced legislation calling for tanning beds’ reclassification so that the FDA can properly regulate their use to protect the public’s health.