H.R. 2749 passed in the House of Representatives. Now is the time for the Senate to vote.
Bill Marler predicted that food safety legislation would pass Congress by Thanksgiving and be signed by the President before Christmas. Predicting the movement of Congress is difficult. Sometimes only a shocking event can prod Congress to action. Tainted cookie dough may have been the last straw for the House passage of H.R. 2749.
Senators, what are you waiting for?
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) a nonpartisan arm of the Library of Congress prepared the following summary of H.R. 2749:
As of 6/8/2009--Introduced. Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 -
· Amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to set forth provisions governing food safety.
· Requires each food facility to: (1) conduct a hazard analysis; (2) implement preventive controls; and (3) implement a food safety plan.
· Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to: (1) issue science-based performance standards to minimize the hazards from foodborne contaminants; (2) establish science-based standards for raw agricultural commodities; (3) inspect facilities at a frequency determined pursuant to a risk-based schedule; (4) establish a food tracing system; (5) assess fees relating to food facility reinspection and food recall; and (6) establish a program for accreditation of laboratories that perform analytical testing of food for import or export.
· Authorizes the Secretary to: (1) order an immediate cessation of distribution, or a recall, of food; (2) establish an importer verification program; and (3) quarantine food in any geographic area within the United States.
· Defines the term "color additive" to include carbon monoxide that may affect the color of fresh meat, poultry products, or seafood.
· Requires country of origin labeling on food and annual registration of importers.
· Provides for unique identifiers for food facilities and food importers.
· Deems a food to be adulterated if an inspection is delayed or refused.
· Requires the Secretary to establish a corps of inspectors dedicated to inspections of foreign food facilities.
· Sets forth provisions governing the reorganization of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) field laboratories and district offices.
· Gives the Commissioner of Food and Drugs subpoena authority with respect to a food proceeding.
· Establishes whistleblower protections.
For further thoughts:
- Bill Marler’s summary
- New York Times Editorial, Vote for Safer Food
- Hearings of the Subcommittee on Health