Food Safety Act Passes in the Senate--Now, It Gets Passed Back to the House

capitolThe Food Safety Modernization Act outlines “the most sweeping change in food safety laws in over seven decades,” according to Helena Bottemiller at Food Safety News. How has this important bill been progressing in its journey toward becoming law?  Slowly.  It passed the House in July, 2009 and then got stalled in the Senate.  Finally, on November 30, 2010, the Senate passed the bill by a resounding 73-25 majority.


So now, at long last, will it become law?  Not so fast.  The Senate version is not the same as the House version.  Now that the Senate has debated and revised the House version, the House must reconsider the Senate version. The bill has unusual bipartisan support in Congress, but, if it doesn’t pass in the lame duck session, it may never do so. According to the New York Times, “Top House Democrats said that they would consider simply passing the Senate version to speed approval.”


What are the goals of the Food Safety Modernization Act? According to Daniel Fromson, producer of the Atlantic’s Food Channel, “The legislation aims to increase inspection frequency, require food facilities to have food safety plans, give the agency [the FDA] mandatory recall authority, and hold imported food to the same standard as domestic.”  In short, it would give the FDA, which oversees about 80% of our food supply, more power and more resources, which should make our food supply safer.  The bill is expected to cost $1.4 billion over four years. 


In what ways do the House and Senate version differ?   The House version, says the New York Times, includes more money for inspections and fewer exceptions from the rules it sets out.  The Senate bill has an amendment that exempts producers who sell less than $500,000 worth of food and who sell mostly locally.  This addition came in response to complaints that the bill’s costly obligations would put small farmers out of business. 


Neither version deals with the problem of overlapping functions among the various federal agencies that oversee food safety, a situation that makes coordination difficult. 


Reducing the numbers of food-borne illness is a major national goal but a difficult one to accomplish, partly because of increasing globalization of our nation’s food supply.  According to the New York Times, “Nearly a fifth of the nation’s food supply and as much as three-quarters of its seafood are imported, but the F.D.A. inspects less than one pound in a million of such imported foods.”  If this bill becomes law, the FDA will have greater control over food imports.


The Food Safety Modernization Act (senate bill 510) would greatly modify the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetics Act (FFDCA) and expand the authority of the Secretary of Health and Human Services. 



For more information about the bill on this site, click here:—still-way-go


Source(s): “Senate Passes Overhaul of Food Safety Regulations”  “Food: The Senate Passes a Food-Safety Fill, But the Problem Isn’t Going Away”


Yahoo! News  “Food safety bill ready for Senate showdown” “Summary of Food Safety Modernization Act (Senate debate pending)” “The Most Sweeping Food Safety Changes in 70 Years: Senate Will Vote Tonight”


Link(s): “Senate Passes Overhaul of Food Safety Regulations”





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