The Obama Administration and Congress are considering ways to upgrade the nation’s food safety system. “The push for change is urgent and the time is now,” says Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, (D-Conn.), House Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration Appropriations subcommittee chairwoman.

DeLauro has sponsored a House bill entitled the Food Safety and Modernization Act. She says it would divide the FDA into two agencies-- one for drugs and one for food safety.

“We are conscious of the needs of small farms and the strains they already face,” says DeLauro. “The legislation addresses foods under FDA jurisdiction only – and not the USDA. And it does not include mandatory animal identification.”

“We included technical assistance for small farmers to help them comply with the law while targeting the large, high-volume food processing facilities that pose the highest risk to the food safety system,” says DeLauro. DeLauro says small farms would need to develop their own food safety plan and identify critical control points.

Last week, President Obama appointed Margaret Hamburg, New York City’s health commissioner, to the top Food and Drug Administration post. Obama also appointed a Food Safety Working Group to be co-chaired by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and the Health and Human Services Secretary.