U.S. Food and Agricultural Imports: Safeguards and Selected Issues [Updated June 12, 2008]   [open pdf - 189KB]

This Congressional Research Service (CRS) report is an update to a report of the same name that discusses the U.S. Food and Agricultural Imports: Safeguards and Selected Issues. ""U.S. officials continue to assert that the U.S. food supply, including the portion provided through imports, is among the safest in the world. One challenge has been how to keep it safe in the face of rapidly rising imports, a result of globalization and consumer desire for a wider variety of foods year-round. The issue of import safety has been the focus of numerous congressional hearings in the 110th Congress, where a variety of bills have been offered on the subject. Recent focus in Congress has been on draft bills circulated by the chairmen of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. Both seek broad reforms in FDA's oversight of food and drug safety, including of imports, although they differ in detail. Formal introduction and committee markups are possible. Numerous other food safety bills are pending that address some aspect of food import safety. Several are primarily import-oriented, such as H.R. 2997, S. 1776, H.R. 1148/S. 654, H.R. 2108/S. 1274, H.R. 3610, H.R. 3624, H.R. 3937, H.R. 3967, and S. 2418. Many, for example, propose that importing establishments, and/or the foreign countries in which they are located, first receive formal U.S. certification that their food safety systems provide at least the same level of safety assurances as the U.S. system. A number also propose the collection of user fees from importers to cover the costs of inspecting foreign products at the borders. Some bills seek to require more physical inspections and testing by FDA at the border or within other countries, to authorize more research into inspection and testing technologies, or to restrict imports to specific ports."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL34198
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