The Most Sweeping Food Safety Changes in 70 Years: Senate Will Vote Tonight

Over at Food Safety News, Helena Bottemiller has the latest on the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which the Senate will be voting on tonight. (You can read more about the bill and food safety, which Marion Nestle has been covering for us tenaciously, here, here, and here.) If passed, the bill, Bottemiller reports, "would be the most sweeping change in food safety laws in over seven decades":

The Senate is expected to begin a series of votes on the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, S.510, this evening, a critical move forward for a bill that would be the most sweeping change in food safety laws in over seven decades. The legislation aims to increase inspection frequency, require food facilities to have food safety plans, give the agency mandatory recall authority, and hold imported food to the same standard as domestic.

As food policy guru Marion Nestle aptly put it, "Following the ongoing saga of S.510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, is like taking a graduate course in political science." After the House passed its version of the bill with bipartisan support in July 2009, the Senate version has hit quite a few speed bumps over the past year.

If all goes as expected today, there will be a cloture vote on the final bill, which, as of last week, includes an amendment by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) to exempt small farms and producers under certain circumstances. There will then be votes on four separate amendments. Two address paperwork issues related to the health care bill, and two belong to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK): a controversial moratorium on legislative earmarks through 2013 and an alternate, scaled-back food safety bill. Coburn is not expected to have the 67 votes needed to move either of these items forward.

Read the full story at Food Safety News.

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Daniel Fromson, a former associate editor at The Atlantic, is a writer based in Washington, D.C. He writes regularly for The Washington Post. His work has also appeared in Harper's Magazine, New York, and Slate.

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