Congressman José E. Serrano

Representing the 15th District of New York

Congressman Serrano Introduces Legislation to Require Labeling of Food Grown on Sewage Sludge

Apr 6, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Serrano today introduced the Sewage Sludge in Food Production Consumer Notification Act, legislation to ensure that food raised or grown on lands where sewage sludge was applied is labeled accordingly.  Specifically, the bill amends the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the relevant egg, meat, and poultry inspection laws to ensure that consumers are informed when food is produced from crops, livestock, or poultry raised on land where sewage sludge was applied. Sewage sludge is composed of materials discharged from sewage treatment plants consisting of residential, industrial, hospital wastes, and runoff from streets/farmlands. Since the 1990s, numerous public and private entities have relied on selling this type of waste as a fertilizer as a way to get rid of municipal wastewater treatment plants byproducts. Despite the fact that this waste contains varying degrees of thousands of pathogens, heavy metals, organic chemicals such as PCBs, industrial solvents, asbestos, and radioactive wastes, federal regulations surrounding their use are inadequate. This includes how food grown or raised using this type of waste is labeled.  

“Tons of sewage sludge waste are being used as an agricultural fertilizer on American farmlands every year. This waste contains thousands of pathogens and other toxic byproducts that in turn end up on people’s food and could have potential adverse effects on their health and well-being,” said Congressman Serrano. “Americans deserve to know where and how their food was grown or raised so they can make informed decisions about what they consume and put in their bodies. The Sewage Sludge in Food Production Consumer Notification Act would require the food industry to label food raised using this type of fertilizer. If this type of fertilizer is used to grow food, the least the government and regulators can do is require the food industry to let people know.”


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Congressman José E. Serrano has represented The Bronx in Congress since 1990.  He is the most senior Member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.