New food safety bill is big consumer victory 12/10
After much debate and several votes in the U.S. House and Senate, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act was passed by Congress on December 21, 2010 and sent to President Barack Obama’s desk for signature. The bill is the first major overhaul of the U.S. food safety system in over 70 years and focuses on preventing contaminated food from ever reaching the grocery store.
The bill will require much more frequent inspections of food facilities in the U.S., and for the first time, gives the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to order mandatory recalls of tainted food.
In addition, it increases FDA oversight of imported food, and will require suppliers to verify that their imported food meets U.S. safety rules. It mandates that the agency conduct at least 600 inspections of overseas facilities in the first year, and that the number double in each of the next five years.
The new rules will cover about 80 percent of the food supply that the FDA oversees including fresh produce, eggs, peanut products, and other foods that have been the cause of widespread disease outbreaks in the recent past. But the rules will not cover meat and poultry products, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Exemption from certain rules is provided for very small producers, such as farmers’ market suppliers.
The FDA’s mandatory recall authority will go into effect immediately once the bill becomes law, but some other provisions in the new law will take more time to be implemented. A lot will depend on the budget and resources available to the FDA for enforcement, which will be determined by the next Congress.
Obama signs new law on food safety. We say: Just in time! 1/11
Food Safety Modernization Act gets President Obama's signature 1/11
Food safety bill crosses the finish line in Congress 12/10