Go on -- eat your veggies
Senate Backs Biggest Food-Safety Overhaul in 70 Years>
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration would gain more power to police food companies under the bill that passed today in a 73-25 vote. The measure, backed by the food industry, public- health groups and consumer advocates, adds inspections and lets the FDA force recalls, rather than relying on companies to voluntarily remove contaminated foods from store shelves.
The bill had awaited a full Senate vote since winning unanimous approval a year ago by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. It was prompted partly by recalls of cookie dough, spinach, jalapenos and salmonella-tainted peanuts that killed at least nine people and sickened more than 700 in 2008 and 2009.
The House, which passed a food-safety bill last year, has agreed to adopt the Senate version, bypassing the need for a conference to integrate the two bills, Harkin said Nov. 18. Once both chambers have approved the measure, lawmakers will send it to President Barack Obama for his signature.
The Senate bill calls for the FDA to inspect at least 600 foreign food facilities within a year of enactment, and double its number of foreign inspections in each subsequent year for five years. The measure would require inspections every three years for U.S. manufacturing and processing plants the FDA deems to be at a high risk for contamination, and every five years for all other domestic facilities.
The legislation would require most food producers to develop hazard prevention plans and would give the FDA access to those records when requested. Some local food producers with annual sales under $500,000 would be exempt from that rule under language written by Democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana, an organic farmer.
“This landmark legislation provides FDA with the resources and authorities the agency needs to help strengthen our nation’s food safety system by making prevention the focus of our food- safety strategies,” Pamela Bailey, president of the Grocery Manufacturers Association in Washington, said in a statement. Nestle SA of Vevey, Switzerland, and Northfield, Illinois-based Kraft Foods Inc., the world’s two biggest food companies, are among the more than 300 members in the group.
The Senate legislation “doesn’t fix the real problem” with the food safety system and may drive up food prices by $300 million to $400 million as companies pass compliance costs onto consumers, said Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican who opposed the measure.
The Senate rejected, in a 62-36 vote, an alternative food- safety proposal by Coburn that would have required FDA technology upgrades and more coordination between that agency and the Department of Agriculture.
“The problem with food safety is that the agencies don’t do what they’re supposed to be doing now,” Coburn said in today’s debate. “They don’t need more regulation; they need less.”
Guambat reckons we ought to keep the foxes out of Congress and put 'em back in the hen-house where they belong.
Guambat wants his salmonella over easy.
Labels: Health care