The House Energy and Commerce Committee today is conducting a public hearing on the “discussion draft” of sweeping new food safety legislation.

Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colorado, praised he “discussion draft” for including key elements of a bill she previously introduced; namely “traceability “ and mandatory recall authority.   “We need to fix this,” DeGette said. “We need to fix it now.”

Rep. Steven Buyer, R-Indiana, cautioned the committee about “unintended consequences” that may result from the biggest changes to food safety in at least 20 years.  He questioned why the “discussion draft” only addresses the Food & Drug Administration, and segments of the food safety system that lies outside the Committee’s jurisdiction.

Buyer suggested working with the Agriculture Committee on more comprehensive reforms.

As the morning continued, the Committee was taking opening statements from all members before hearing from FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.

The  “discussion draft” of “the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 is based on the food reforms contained in H.R. 759, the Food and Drug Administration Globalization Act of 2009, It was introduced by the Democratic leaders on the Committee who plan a “mark-up” and vote by August.