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The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that the United States Senate “gave the go-ahead Wednesday to a bill that empowers the Food and Drug Administration to order food recalls, raising the chance that it will become law by the end of the year.

“The Senate, in a 74-25 vote, agreed to limit debate on the bill, and Sen. Jon Tester (D., Mont.) said he expects a final vote by Thursday.

“The bill would give the FDA more authority, including ordering recalls, keeping better track of fruit and vegetable shipments and setting standards for food manufacturers.”

Still controversial is an amendment being introduced by Tester that would exempt “small farms and food processors that have annual sales under $500,000 and sell their products directly to consumers or to restaurants no more than 400 miles away.” Some supporters of the legislation have said they cannot support the amendment.

If the bill passes, it is expected to be signed by President Obama.

Jennifer Hatcher, senior vice president of government relations at the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), responded to the vote: “The Food Marketing Institute commends the U.S. Senate for moving forward on legislation to protect our food supply. Consumers are counting on America’s food retailers, wholesalers, and the entire supply chain and government to work together to improve the safety of our food supply. We support the focus on preventing foodborne illness by providing the Food and Drug Administration the necessary resources and authority to help the agency protect our food supply. We urge swift passage of this bill.”  

And Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) President/CEO Pamela G. Bailey chimed in: “We applaud the Senate for its vote today to proceed to consideration of S. 510, FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, bringing us one step closer to passage of this important legislation.  GMA and the food and beverage industry are committed to partnering with Congress, the Administration and the FDA to strengthen and modernize our nation’s food safety system.  The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act will provide FDA with the resources and authorities the agency needs to help strengthen our nation’s food safety system by making prevention the focus of our food safety strategies.  We urge the Senate to vote on this important, bipartisan bill as early as possible during the lame duck session.”
KC's View:
It is about time we do something about the food safety problems in this country. I need to understand the Tester amendment better before I judge it, though on principle I have no real problem with it. I just hope this thing doesn’t get bogged down in partisan bickering.