The Senate on Tuesday approved the biggest overhaul to the nation’s food safety laws since the 1930s, as the Food Safety Modernization Act passed on a 73-25 vote.
A Lame-Duck Success?
The House approved a different, more stringent version of the bill in July, 2009, and must now pass this bill before it goes to President Obama’s desk. However, House leaders have indicated that they would accept this Senate version in order to avoid the time-consuming conference process, and have the bill signed by the end of the lame-duck session.
Healthier Food For All
The bill gives new authorities to the Food and Drug Administration, including: access to facility records in a food emergency, more FDA inspections at all food facilities, the ability to force a recall of food suspected to be tainted, the power to suspend a food facility’s registration if there’s a sign of health risk, and increased funding.
The bill also, for the first time, sets safety standards for imported foods.
The most controversial element of this bill–restrictions on bisphenol-A (a common chemical in plastics)–has been dropped.
A Spate Of Food Poisoning Outbreaks
The legislation follows several national outbreaks of food poisoning involving products as varied as eggs, spinach, peanuts and hamburgers. I wrote in these pages about the salmonella outbreak at Taco Bell, and Care2′s Jaelithe Judy reported in detail on the Senate hearing following the DeCoster Egg-related salmonella outbreak.
A Care2 Victory!
This is a victory for Care2 members! Our petition putting pressure on senators to pass this bill garnered over 28,000 signatures, and now we can celebrate success.
This is also the most significant lame-duck accomplishment to date, and the second significant bill to pass since the midterms. On Nov. 18, the House passed the Telework Improvements Act, a bill designed to enable federal employees to work remotely, which President Obama signed.
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