Long-awaited food safety bill on the horizon

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After more than a year of delays, a long-awaited measure designed to give the Food and Drug Administration and the Agriculture Department more authority to enforce preventive measures against foodborne illness today passed a procedural vote in the Senate. By voting 74-25 for cloture, the Senate must now bring the Food Safety Modernization Act to a floor vote in 60 days. Among the new FDA provisions proposed in the bill are increased food-processing plant safety inspections, greater authority by FDA to order food recalls, and the implementation of a nationwide food safety system by the HHS. TheHill.com’s health care blog reports that the legislation was set back since its passage through the House of Representatives in July 2009 due to priority voting on health care and financial regulation reform measures by the Senate.

While ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross is not confident that measure will effectively improve the safety of the national food supply, he was most disappointed that the article failed to mention Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) numerous attempts to amend the bill with a Bisphenol A (BPA) ban on baby bottles, infant formula, and ‘sippy cups.’ “Without a doubt, Sen. Feinstein’s obsession with adding a BPA ban is what originally held up the bill. The fact that a member of her own party, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), chastised her via a public letter in July for holding up this bill— I find it to be willful blindness on the part of the writer for The Hill not to mention Sen. Feinstein’s role in delaying this bill.”