S .510 Food Safety Modernization Act Passes in Senate

The Food Safety Modernization Act was passed in the Senate this morning with a vote of 73 to 25. The bill includes an amendment that intends to safeguard small producers (those with less than $500,000 in yearly sales) who sell directly or locally from being overburdened with fees and paperwork. The New York Times has a fair reading of the bill’s implications and limitations:

“The bill is intended to keep unsafe foods from reaching markets and restaurants, where they can make people sick — a change from the current practice, which mainly involves cracking down after outbreaks occur. Both versions of the bill would grant the F.D.A. new powers to recall tainted foods, increase inspections, demand accountability from food companies and oversee farming. […] The legislation greatly increases the number of inspections of food processing plants that the F.D.A. must conduct, with an emphasis on foods that are considered most high risk — although figuring out which those are is an uncertain science. Until recently, peanut butter would not have made the list.”

The bill also increases juridiction over imported food:

“The bill gives the agency 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.”

However, the bill hass limitations:

“Neither would consolidate overlapping functions at the Department of Agriculture and nearly a dozen other federal agencies that oversee various aspects of food safety, leaving coordination among the agencies a continuing challenge.”

The bill still needs to make it to the President’s desk, but this is nonetheless a ginormous victory for food safety!


3 Comments on “S .510 Food Safety Modernization Act Passes in Senate”

  1. Wasn’t there quite a bit of controversy about this as well? I remember reading stuff about this last year, about it actually being antithetical to small-scale, organic farming. A lot of people are upset with NAIS, the animal tracing program, for example.

    Check out this: http://www.urbanfarmhub.org/2010/05/food-safety-modernization-act-the-end-of-homegrown-produce/

    Who to believe?

    • Stephanie says:

      Yea there was a bit of controversy last year surrounding the House’s original version of the bill (HR 875). There was like a viral inflammatory email string that went around claiming that the bill would destroy organic farming and run small producers out of business. Here’s a link to Marion Nestle’s post on the issue -http://www.foodpolitics.com/2009/03/whats-up-with-the-organic-e-mail-scare/.
      In reality, S .510 shouldn’t hurt organic/small producers any more than current food safety regulations. The Senate bill has a few amendments that intend to safeguard small producers and those who sell direct to consumers. In any event, the bill will likely die this session and Congress will have to start from scratch next year because of some silly bureaucratic typo. UGH! Washington Post has a story on the ‘snafu’ http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/01/AR2010120104940.html and Roll Call, explains the the implications of the typo http://www.rollcall.com/news/-201012-1.html?ET=rollcall:e9341:80059625a:&st=email
      I mean, I think the bill is a good start in that it brings food safety into the mainstream (some people still think we have the safest food system in the world, really people??). Newspapers all over the country on Tuesday had the story about the Senate passing the bill on their front pages, which is a big deal for the movement. The bill should make recalls easier and should theoretically prevent other large scale contaminations, but it really doesn’t dig to the root of the problem, which is corporate conglomeration of farms and processors. Sigh. So who to believe? Well, it just really depends on where you decide to set up camp within the food safety park.


  2. […] bill is definitely something to be grateful for, especially after hearing that the Food Safety Modernization Act will likely die during this Congressional session due to a silly bureaucratic typo in the […]

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