Food Safety Bill to Omit Brokers

Source of Article:  http://www.joc.com/node/412611

R.G. Edmonson | Jul 28, 2009 4:55PM GMT

The Journal of Commerce Online - News Story

Amended legislation will not include penalties for brokers, say lobbyists

Customs brokers apparently lobbied successfully to remove language from a bill that would have given the Food and Drug Administration the authority to license and penalize them for violations of a new food safety bill.

Jon Kent, lobbyist for the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America, said that the House Ways and Means Committee will send an amended Food Safety Improvement Act of 2009 to the House floor on Wednesday without the clauses that raised a storm of protest in the broker community.

The bill will require producers, packers, manufacturers, and other companies in the food chain to register with the FDA, and adopt standard electronic reporting measures to better help the agency track food contamination. FDA will have the authority to levy penalties for noncompliance.

Brokers objected to being included because they are already under the jurisdiction of Customs and Border Protection. However, Kent said that brokers will still have to register with the FDA.

Peter Friedmann, who represents the Pacific Coast Council of brokers and forwarders, said that letters from brokers and the group’s work with congressional staff were “able to force some very good last-minute revisions out of the Energy and Commerce Committee,” where the bill originated.

“Ways and Means has not seen the final bill yet … but we understand the following changes have been made. The bill was written to explicitly say that Brokers will not be subject to penalties, and the section that gave FDA the authority to suspend a broker’s license for substantive violations of the Act was removed,” Friedmann reported to members.

Neither Kent nor Friedmann said they had seen a final version of the bill.

 

 

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