Food safety bill passes in Senate

Published on December 2, 2010 at 12:21 AM · No Comments
Reuters: "The Senate passed the largest overhaul of the U.S. food safety system in decades on Tuesday, a response to massive recalls such as last summer's recall of half a billion eggs in a salmonella outbreak. The Senate voted 73-25 to pass the bill. The House of Representatives backed a different version in July 2009. With their post-election session due to end by mid-December, lawmakers have just weeks to resolve their differences and send legislation to President Barack Obama to sign into law." Under the legislation, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would gain the authority to recall food if a company refuses to do so voluntarily and increase inspections at some food processing plants and "expand FDA capabilities to trace the source of food borne disease outbreaks such as E. coli and salmonella" (11/30).

The Wall Street Journal: "Proponents say the bill would bring faster responses to contamination outbreaks and mean fewer safety blowups. 'The new law requires a fundamental shift in the [FDA's] food-safety program, emphasizing prevention instead of waiting until people become sick or die,' said Chris Waldrop, director of the Consumer Federation of America." The bill is backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as well as "major business groups representing food producers and grocery stores." Small farms had "warned of higher prices as businesses comply with the new rules, and said consumers might lose access to some local produce if smaller farmers couldn't keep up" (Mundy/Tomson, 12/1).

National Journal: Unlike the House version of the bill, "the Senate version leaves FDA funding for expanded investigations up to appropriators, and getting extra funds could be an uphill battle in a deficit-concerned and divided Congress, ... requires less frequent inspections of high- and low-risk facilities than the House version, and includes compromise language from Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., exempting certain small farmers from some regulations" (11/30).

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