Democrats Seek to Consolidate Food Oversight in Single Agency

Article excerpt

A new food-safety agency would consolidate oversight powers now scattered among several federal departments under legislation that Democrats plan to introduce today.

The proposal has the backing of consumer groups, which say a single agency would better enforce food inspection and safety laws and develop more consistent regulations.

Business groups say the idea is worth considering, but they are taking a neutral position until they know whether the House or Senate bills would lead to tougher rules or more bureaucratic powers.

"We support it and think it would improve safety for consumers," said Bill Bryant, a spokesman for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which is best known for warning people about the high fat content in fast food.

Consolidating powers under one agency would make for a more rational system, said Steven Maviglio, a spokesman for House sponsor Rep. Vic Fazio, California Democrat.

"The classic example is a frozen pizza," Mr. …