Senate passes food safety act, calls for major changes at FDA | TSLN.com

Senate passes food safety act, calls for major changes at FDA

By a vote of 73-25, the U.S. Senate Tuesday, Nov. 30, approved the Food Safety Modernization Act, the first major overhaul of the food safety system in 70 years. Key provisions include:

• Giving the Food and Drug Administration more funding, increasing FDA inspections at food plants, and giving the agency the authority to order recalls of contaminated food products. The bill also enhances food surveillance systems for food-borne illness outbreaks; requires importers to verify the safety of imported food, and calls for a national strategy to protect the food supply from terrorism.

• The bill also calls for a pilot project to test methods for quickly tracking and tracing food during food-borne illness outbreaks.

• Producers who sell directly to consumers and sell less than $500,000 annually are exempt from some of the new regulations, although they would be subject to state and local food safety regulations. FDA could withdraw the exemption if the farm or facility was associated with an outbreak of food-borne illness.

The House passed their version of the bill last July, and now the House and Senate must reconcile their versions by the end of the current session. Some House Democrats would consider passing the Senate version to speed up the process, according to news reports.

While the meat industry is mostly regulated by USDA, they have been watching this legislation closely. Some industry lobbyists believe the passage of these major changes to FDA regulation could lead to calls for similar reform at USDA.

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By a vote of 73-25, the U.S. Senate Tuesday, Nov. 30, approved the Food Safety Modernization Act, the first major overhaul of the food safety system in 70 years. Key provisions include:

• Giving the Food and Drug Administration more funding, increasing FDA inspections at food plants, and giving the agency the authority to order recalls of contaminated food products. The bill also enhances food surveillance systems for food-borne illness outbreaks; requires importers to verify the safety of imported food, and calls for a national strategy to protect the food supply from terrorism.

• The bill also calls for a pilot project to test methods for quickly tracking and tracing food during food-borne illness outbreaks.

• Producers who sell directly to consumers and sell less than $500,000 annually are exempt from some of the new regulations, although they would be subject to state and local food safety regulations. FDA could withdraw the exemption if the farm or facility was associated with an outbreak of food-borne illness.

The House passed their version of the bill last July, and now the House and Senate must reconcile their versions by the end of the current session. Some House Democrats would consider passing the Senate version to speed up the process, according to news reports.

While the meat industry is mostly regulated by USDA, they have been watching this legislation closely. Some industry lobbyists believe the passage of these major changes to FDA regulation could lead to calls for similar reform at USDA.

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