On Tuesday morning by a vote of 73 to 25 the Senate passed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. The bill gives the Food and Drug Administration greater authority for food recalls and inspections.
It now must be reconciled during a conference committee with the House version that was passed last year. However when that conference will occur is uncertain.
Reaction to the passage of the bill was mixed. The Consumers Union, National Farmers Union, National Feed and Grain Association and National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition all voiced their support of the bill.
"Senate passage of this critically needed legislation represents a major milestone for food safety reform and for greater consumer protection from food-borne illness," said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union. "We urge the House to act promptly to pass food safety through the Congress and on to the President."
However there was some opposition to the Senate Bill.
"We are disappointed that the Senate continues to ignore the egregious loopholes allowed in this legislation that will erode consumer confidence in our nation's food safety system," said Robert Guenther, United Fresh senior vice president of public policy. "Now, when going to a supermarket, restaurant, farmers market or roadside stand, consumers will be faced with the question of whether the fruits and vegetables offered for sale adhere to basic food safety standards or not. The Senate has chosen to include a provision that will exempt certain segments of the food industry based on the size of operation, geographic location and customer base. This provision creates a gaping hole in the ability of consumers to trust the safety of all foods in the commercial marketplace."