Food Safety Bill Poised for Senate Floor Vote

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Food Safety Bill Poised for Senate Floor Vote

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans may soon be able to enjoy peanuts, peppers, spinach and cookie dough with greater confidence that those foods are safe to eat, if the full U.S. Senate passes food safety legislation that cleared a key committee this week.

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510), offered by Democratic Sens. Richard Durbin, of Illinois, and Tom Harkin, of Iowa, was passed unanimously in the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

Food safety advocates are calling on the full body to pass the bill before the end of the year. Similar legislation passed the House in July.

"Americans expect the businesses that grow, fish, process and handle our food to follow the best practices to ensure it is safe," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director of the Washington-based Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). "This bill gives FDA needed new authorities to manage food safety from farm to table, through improved standards and more frequent inspections."

The bill calls on food processors to register with the government periodically; implement food safety plans; meet FDA performance standards; and verify that the food they import complies with U.S. law. The House-passed bill also requires more frequent risk-based inspections of food-processing facilities and microbial testing for dangerous pathogens like Salmonella or E. coli O157:H7. Under the current system, food-manufacturing facilities might only receive visits from an FDA inspector once every five or 10 years.

Both bills also give the FDA authority to issue mandatory recalls of contaminated foods.

The bill is widely supported by a diverse coalition of consumer and health groups, including the American Public Health Association, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Safe Tables Our Priority, the Pew Charitable Trusts and Trust for America's Health. The Make Our Food Safe coalition ( said it will continue to seek some strengthening amendments, but urges rapid passage to restore consumer confidence, which has been shaken by numerous outbreaks of foodborne illness.

"The most important goal of America's retailers and wholesalers is to provide nutritious, safe, high-quality and affordable food," said Leslie G. Sarasin, FMI president. "It is important that any legislation address these issues and restore public confidence in the safety of our food supply. We believe S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, achieves these goals."

-- Nielsen Business Media

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