Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Food Safety Bill - Finally

While the House easily passed this important overhaul of the nation's food safety regulations well over a year ago the Senate finally beat down the ass holes that were holding it up and passed their version today. Even though it had bipartisan sponsorship -- three Democrats and three Republicans it still took over a year to bring it to a vote even in a year that saw  at least 1,300 salmonella-related illnesses spanning 22 states over the summer. The only issue will be how it can be reconciled with the different House bill in the short time remaining before the end of the year adjournment. One possibility is the House holding their noses and just passing the Senate version which could then go to the President.

While it is not a done deal at least there is something positive for a change.
The Senate on Tuesday passed a sweeping overhaul of the nation's food-safety system, after recalls of tainted eggs, peanut butter and spinach sickened thousands and led major food makers to join consumer advocates in demanding stronger government oversight.
The legislation, which passed by a vote of 73 to 25, would greatly strengthen the Food and Drug Administration, an agency that in recent decades focused more on policing medical products than ensuring the safety of foods. The bill is intended to get the government to crack down on unsafe foods before they harm people rather than after outbreaks occur.
While the bill is far from perfect it's a big step in the right direction.
Part of the problem is the growing industrialization and globalization of the nation's food supply. Nearly a fifth of the nation's food supply and as much as three-quarters of its seafood are imported, but the F.D.A. inspects less than one pound in a million of such imported foods. The bill gives the F.D.A. more control over food imports, including increased inspection of foreign processing plants and the ability to set standards for how fruits and vegetables are grown abroad.
And as food suppliers grow in size, problems at one facility can sicken thousands all over the country. The Peanut Corporation of America's contaminated paste was included in scores of cookies and snacks made by big and small companies. The legislation would raise standards at such plants by demanding that food companies write plans to manufacture foods safely and conduct routine tests to ensure that the plans are adequate.
The bill would give the F.D.A. the power to demand food recalls.... The legislation greatly increases the number of inspections the F.D.A. must conduct of food processing plants, with an emphasis on foods that are considered most high risk -- although figuring out which ones are riskiest is an uncertain science.

No comments: