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U.S. Senate Passes New Food Safety Bill

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate passed a sweeping overhaul of the USA’s food safety system (S.510). The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which passed by a vote of 73 to 25, would greatly strengthen the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and increase requirements on companies in the food industry.

Major points of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act include:

  • The U.S. FDA would have new powers to demand recall of tainted foods, instead of merely requesting that companies recall products.
  • An increase in the number of U.S. FDA inspections of food processing plants, with an emphasis on foods that are considered most high risk.
  • The U.S. FDA will have increased control over food imports, including increased inspection of foreign processing plants.

For a bill to become law in the USA, it must pass both houses of Congress (the Senate and the House of Representatives), and it must be signed by the President. The House passed a different version of the bill in July 2009. Despite today’s unusual bipartisan support and a strong push from the Obama administration, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act could stall if it cannot be reconciled between the Senate and House of Representatives. Top House Democrats said that they would consider simply passing the Senate version to speed approval.

The Senate version requires biennial U.S. FDA food facility registration, and does not impose a registration fee.

The House version (The Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009) requires annual U.S. FDA food facility registration and imposes a $500 registration fee.

Both versions have additional requirements for non-U.S. processors. Registrar Corp will provide you with more information when the final, reconciled bill becomes law. After it becomes law, the U.S. FDA will issue implementing regulations, which we also will advise you about, when those are promulgated.


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