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Federal food-safety bill advances

Bill moves on to House after passage in Senate

A food-safety bill endorsed by leading foodservice trade groups was approved by the U.S. Senate on Sunday and could be voted on Tuesday by the House of Representatives before its scheduled adjournment.

The National Restaurant Association and the National Council of Chain Restaurants both support food-safety provisions in the bill. If approved by the House, the measure would be sent to President Obama for his signature.

Information posted by the Library of Congress website indicates that House Bill 2751, originally a consumer recycling measure, was amended through the complete substitution of its provisions with the food-safety provisions originally contained in Senate Bill 501. The amended HB 2751, which was renamed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, was approved by the Senate that day on a voice vote, which means no precise margin of passage is known.

SB 501, which shared some provisions with a House bill passed in 2009, was approved on a 73-25 vote Nov. 30. But a procedural flaw in SB 501 related to taxation, as well as political wrangling between Democrats and Republicans, forced supporters to amend its provision into other bills, including HB 2571 and stalled budget-related legislation in both the House and Senate.

Among other provisions, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act would 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.

Contact Alan J. Liddle at [email protected].

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