Senate Passes Food Safety Bill

November 30, 2010

The Food Safety Modernization Act cleared the Senate by a vote of 73 to 25.

The U.S. Senate today passed S. 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, by a vote of 73 to 25.

If passed in the House, the Food Safety Modernization Act will increase inspections of food producer facilities, provide FDA with increased control of tainted food incidents, and require food producers to establish food safety plans.

Various industry groups are lauding the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act, including the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN; Washington, DC), which released the following comments from CRN president and CEO Steve Mister:

“CRN is pleased that the Senate today passed S. 510…CRN and its member companies support this bill because of the added enforcement tools it would provide to FDA and the extra protections it would provide for consumers…It is imperative that FDA has the tools it needs to help protect our nation’s food supply, including dietary supplements. This bill is critical."

Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (Washington, DC) expressed similar approval. “Everyone who eats will benefit from this historic legislation,” he said. “Preventing contamination in the first place is paramount to reducing the health care and economic costs that are caused when unsafe food makes people sick.”

But bipartisan support for the bill only goes so far.

Notable Senators who voted Nay on S. 510 included Orrin Hatch (R-UT), author of the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), and John McCain (R-AZ), who introduced (and later retracted) his own food safety legislation earlier this year.

Some industry associations, like the United Fresh Produce Association (Washington, DC) have also shown concern with the Senate’s version of the 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, senior vice president of public policy at United Fresh, referring to an amendment in the Senate’s bill, which would exempt some smaller producers from the new producer requirements.

Whether or not these exemptions will be in the final bill remains a question. If the House doesn’t reach a majority approval of the Senate's bill, it’s back to the drawing board-at least for a while.

Do you know how your Senator voted on S. 510? Click here to find out.