Last week, the Senate advanced on long-awaited legislation that would overhaul the nation's food safety system, grant new powers to the Food and Drug Administration and make farmers and processors responsible for preventing foodborne illness.
According to The Washington Post, a bill proposing to overhaul food safety legislation is advancing after a barrage of food poisoning outbreaks across the country. The food poisonings are linked to items such as eggs, peanuts and spinach, in which thousands of people were sickened and more than a dozen died.
The Senate voted 74 to 25 to limit debate on the food safety bill, which clears the legislation for a final vote where it is expected to pass. This suggests the measure has strong bipartisan support and good prospects. The House approved its version more than a year ago, and food safety advocates have been pushing the Senate to act so differences between the two measures can be reconciled and the legislation signed into law by President Obama by the end of the lame-duck session.
Congress members, the Government Accountability Office, consumer groups and the food industry have said that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lacks modern enforcement tools and adequate resources to keep the food supply safe. Food illnesses affect one in four Americans and kill 5,000 annually, according to government statistics, and tainted food has cost the industry billions of dollars in recalls, lost sales and legal expenses.
The bill would place greater responsibility on manufacturers and farmers to prevent contamination, a departure from the current system, which relies on government inspectors to catch tainted food after the fact. Food processors and farmers would be required to develop a strategy to prevent contamination and then continually test their production methods and products to make sure their food is safe.
Senate Moves Food Safety Bill Forward
November 22, 2010