Food safety bill passes House committee with meat industry exemptions

Source of Article: www.meatingplace.com

 

By Rita Jane Gabbett on 6/18/2009

 

The House Energy and Commerce Committee Wednesday passed the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 with an amendment that would exempt meat, poultry, eggs and the farms and facilities that produce and process them exclusively.

The bill, H.R. 2749, is aimed primarily at expanding Food and Drug Administration authority and resources. An amendment passed by voice vote exempts farms, foods and facilities regulated exclusively by the Secretary of Agriculture under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act or the Egg Products Inspection Act.

The bill, passed by the committee unanimously, would give FDA authority to order food recalls, increase inspections to every six to 12 months at high-risk facilities, impose new penalties on violators and require foreign and domestic food companies to follow food safety standards at facilities covered by the act, according to media reports. It would boost FDA funding by requiring covered companies to pay $500 per facility yearly with a cap of $175,000 per company.

Meat industry groups last week raised a number of concerns that the legislation in its original form would have had a series of negative consequences for the industry. (See Meat groups get nervous about food safety bill on Meatingplace.com, June 11, 2009.)

Meat industry response

"It appears that most of our on-farm inspection concerns have been addressed, but we're continuing to work to make sure the clarifying language ensures there won't be duplicative regulatory authority between FDA and USDA for meat products," National Cattlemen's Beef Association spokeswoman Bethany Shively told Meatingplace.

The American Meat Institute issued a statement saying, "Although the majority of AMI member companies are regulated by USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), H.R. 2749 presents concerns because of the effect it would have on FDA-regulated products that are used as ingredients in some meat and poultry and because of the precedent the bill could establish with respect to the meat and poultry inspection statutes AMI still has concerns regarding providing FDA with mandatory recall authority, the imposition of registration fees and a reference to BPA in the legislation, among others."

Food safety legislation has also been proposed in the Senate, but that bill might have to wait in line behind the Senate health committee's work on health care reform.

 

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