By Cynthia Dizikes

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., introduced a bill this week to reform the food safety system in the wake of the nationwide salmonella outbreak that killed three Minnesotans.

The bipartisan legislation would require all facilities to have preventative plans to address identified hazards and would require those facilities to give the Food and Drug Administration access to those plans.

It would also expand FDA access to records in a food emergency and would require that importers verify the safety of foreign suppliers and imported food.

In addition, the bill would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a pilot project to test and evaluate new methods for rapidly and effectively tracking fruits and vegetables in the event of a food-borne illness outbreak.

“The first responsibility of a government is to protect its citizens,” Klobuchar said in a statement.  “Ensuring that Americans have safe food is a basic issue of public safety, health and consumer protection.  Whenever contaminated food is allowed to reach consumers, public trust in the integrity of our food supply and the effectiveness of our government is undermined. This bill will help give us the tools and authority for better inspections and a more responsive recall system.”

Klobuchar is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and was joined by a bipartisan group of senators, including Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Judd Gregg, R-N.H., Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., in introducing the legislation.