In a move that will allow for easier recalls of tainted food and beverage products, the U.S. Senate has approved S. 510, also known as the Food Safety Modernization Act, in a 73-25 vote. The legislation aims to help curb future outbreaks of foodborne illnesses by allowing the FDA to step in and regulate food safety practices, instead of leaving them up to the individual producers or manufacturers. The agency would have the authority to initiate a recall of potentially unsafe products if a company under scrutiny does not voluntarily issue one.
Additionally, the FDA would gain greater access to a food production company’s records in the event that there was an emergency situation. The agency would also have the power to prevent international food shipments if the products originated in plants that refused inspection from U.S. officials.
In a statement, President Obama said the bill “ensures more frequent inspections of food manufacturing facilities and will require these facilities to take preventative actions to reduce the risks of outbreaks and foodborne illness,” further enhancing consumer protections. He also urged the House of Representatives to act quickly in order to pass the bill, describing it as critical to the nation’s safety.
The American Beverage Association later released a statement in support of the legislation, with a similar desire to see it passed before Congress adjourns.
“We commend the Senate for its hard work and commitment to passing the Food Safety Modernization Act during this lame duck session,” spokesperson Tracey Halliday commented via email. “The safety of our nation’s food supply, and the impact of this piece of legislation, are vitally important.”
The bill can be read in full here: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=s111-510