On March 31, 2011, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation to increase criminal penalties for corporations and individuals who knowingly endanger American lives by contaminating the food supply. If the bill passes, the offense, previously a misdemeanor, will become a felony carrying a penalty of up to 10 years. ”Current statutes do not provide sufficient criminal sanctions for those who knowingly violate our food safety laws,” said Committee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy, who also authored the Food Safety Accountability Act.
After one of Leahy’s Vermont constituents contracted Salmonella from peanut butter crackers, the senator cited an ongoing investigation of Peanut Corporation of America’s involvement in a 2009 Salmonella outbreak (which left hundreds of people ill, nine dead, and resulted in one of largest food recalls in history) as one of many reasons to pass the new bill.
Leahy has strong support for the bill on the committee, which also includes Senators Klobuchar (D-MN), Franken (D-MN), Feinstein (D-CA), Durbin (D-IL) and Kohl (D-WI).
Read other posts about foodborne pathogens.