By a wide margin of 215 to 144, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Food Safety Modernization Act and sent it to President Obama for approval.
The bill, HR 2751, provides increased government oversight of the food industry by expanding the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority with mandatory recalls, increased inspection rates, collection of fees and would require all facilities to have a food safety plan, according to the American Meat Institute.
It also increases the number of FDA inspections at food processing facilities and enhances surveillance systems for food-borne illness outbreaks.
The legislation also calls for the creation of a pilot project to test methods for quickly tracking and tracing food during food-borne illness outbreaks, Meatingplace reported.
Funding is increased for FDA to require importers to verify the safety of imported food and calls for a national strategy to protect the food supply from terrorism.
“Food retailers and wholesalers believe that given today’s global marketplace, it is critical to provide the FDA with the authority to recall products when necessary,” Food Marketing Institute President and CEO Leslie Sarasin said in a statement. “Our customers deserve to have the industry and government working together to ensure the safety of our food supply.”
Producers who sell directly to consumers and earn less than $500,000 in annual sales are exempt from some of the new regulations. These producers would still be subject to local and state food safety regulations. The FDA would still be able to withdraw the exemption if the producer was linked to an outbreak of food-borne illness.