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.