Washington, D.C.—A unanimous vote by a U.S. Senate committee has brought food safety reform a step closer to reality. The hope among many is that the full Senate will approve the food safety bill early this year, though the timing could change given that its attention is still being tied up with the healthcare reform debate.
The bill would emphasize the prevention of foodborne outbreaks, rather than just reacting to them once they affect the population. “FDA would have the power to order recalls, increase inspection rates and require all facilities to have a food safety plan,” according to a report from Reuters. In fact, all plants would be inspected once every four years (at minimum), and facilities deemed “high risk” would be subjected to an annual FDA inspection. At the same time, FDA would institute a process for tracing fruits and vegetables in the supply chain.
Of note, the newest version of the bill being circulated in the Senate does not require the $500 annual manufacturers fee previously required in the earlier draft from the House of Representatives. This doesn’t necessarily mean manufacturers are off the hook from paying a similar fee. Comments from Senator Tom Harkin given to Reuters indicated that the newest version may “include a fee once the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office determines the price tag of the Senate bill.”
Published in WholeFoods Magazine, Jan. 2010