House approves food-safety bill

Sweeping legislation sent to President Obama

The U.S. House of Representatives passed Tuesday a sweeping food-safety reform measure endorsed by leading restaurant trade associations.

The House passed the Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act by a vote of 215 to 144. The legislation, which had been passed by the Senate earlier this week, now will be sent to President Obama for his signature.

“The passage of this bill is welcomed by the restaurant industry, an industry that certainly understands the critical importance of a first class food safety system,” said Scott DeFife, executive vice president of policy and government affairs for the National Restaurant Association.

“Enhancements to that system such as hazard analysis, food safety plans, and increased inspections, are all important measures to ensure the food entering the supply chain is safe,” he said. “The comprehensive reforms and emphasis on prevention will improve the safety of the food purchased by restaurant operators.”

Earlier, Jack Whipple, president of the National Council of Chain Restaurants had voiced support for the bill, saying, “Upgrading and modernizing the nation’s food safety system has long been a top priority for the chain restaurant industry.”

Two years in the legislative system, the food safety reform measure will empower the Food and Drug Administration to order recalls of tainted foods; increase inspections of domestic and foreign food facilities; require the FDA to draft new rules for the growers and processors of higher-risk fruits and vegetables; and create stricter food-safety standards for imported foods, among other provisions.

The legislation represents the largest overhaul of the country’s food safety system in more than 70 years.

Contact Paul Frumkin at [email protected] and Alan J. Liddle at [email protected]