Food safety bill fails quick vote in House

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By Rita Jane Gabbett on 7/30/2009


The House of Representatives on Wednesday failed to pass sweeping food safety legislation by the two-thirds majority it needed under suspension rules that limited debate and banned amendments from being added on the floor.

The 280-150 vote in favor of the legislation was just a few votes shy of the two-thirds majority. Democrats are expected to bring up the bill again Thursday under regular procedures requiring a simple majority for passage, according to media reports.

The bill would give the FDA more food safety authority. However, facilities already regulated by USDA would be exempt from some of the FDA's extended powers, including exempting livestock operations from new on-farm inspection authority granted to FDA under the bill.

Also, proposed legislation that would ban the use of non-therapeutic antimicrobials in food-producing animals was not included in this food safety bill. Meat industry groups sent a letter a week ago to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), asking the antibiotic legislation be kept out of this broader food safety bill. (See Ag coalition presses Pelosi on antibiotics ban on Meatingplace, July 27, 2009.)

Food defense plan

The legislation does include a requirement for food processors to develop and implement a written food defense plan that would identify conditions and practices that may permit a hazard that could be intentionally introduced, including by an act of terrorism.

The plan would need to consider and address: processing security, cyber-security, material security (including ingredients, finished product, and packaging), personnel security, storage security, shipping and receiving security, and utility security.


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