Congress OK’s Food Safety Bill

Tuesday, December 28, 2010 @ 02:12 PM gHale

A food safety bill gained approval from the House of Representatives and the Senate and President Obama has said he will sign the bill.

Under the measure companies that manufacture, process, pack, distribute, receive, hold, or import food would need to implement safety measures to protect that food from contamination. Companies must test these measures on an ongoing basis and document the outcomes. The government would establish regulations to prevent the intentional adulteration of food.

To prevent contamination from e-coli and salmonella, companies that produce and harvest fresh fruits and vegetables would need to establish science-based minimum standards for safety.

Under the bill, the government would inspect facilities based on how great a risk contamination or adulteration would pose to the public. Companies would pay a fee to fund the inspection program.

The government would implement a program to better track fruits and vegetables so officials could establish the source of a foodborne illness outbreak. Companies would have to submit food shipment and sales records to the government as part of this program. The government would also establish a pilot program to track processed food.

Under the bill, the government can force a company to issue a recall, if it introduces contaminated or adulterated food into the food chain. Under current law, the government can only suggest a recall.

U.S. food importers would have to perform risk assessments on foreign suppliers to verify imported food is in compliance with applicable safety requirements. The government would issue guidance to assist U.S. importers in developing foreign supplier verification programs.

An amendment exempts small-scale producers that sell most of their food directly to consumers within their state or within a 275-mile radius of where they produced it.

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