NEWS

House Votes to Give More Power to FDA to Protect Food Supply

By Matthew Harwood

The recent rash of tainted spinach, peanuts, and hot peppers led the House of Representatives yesterday to pass the first modernization of the U.S. food safety system in decades.

The House overwhelming approved the measure by 283 to 142, a  $3.5 billion reform regime that would make it harder for tainted food stuffs to jeopardize the nation's food supply by more fully empowering the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

According to The Wall Street Journal:

Under the House bill, the FDA would be required to conduct more frequent inspections. It would have the authority to order recalls and tell companies how to keep records so contaminated products could be traced more easily. Most food companies also would be required to register with the agency and pay an annual $500 fee for each of their facilities. (For another quick breakdown of the legislation's details, go here.)

The New York Times reports that the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the annual fee will generate $1.4 billion in revenue to pay for the program, about 40 percent of its projected cost.

Critics, according to Bloomberg.com, argue the legislation will unnecessarily burden businesses with too much regulation and lead to higher food prices as manufacturers pass off  higher costs to consumers.

Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) said the bill will "fundamentally change the way in which we ensure the safety of our food supply and protect American consumers, farmers and business." He added that the recent food-borne disease outbreaks had " laid bare unacceptable gaps in our food safety laws.”

The Senate is not expected to act on their version of the bill until the fall or later.


♦ Photo of spinach by Ian-S/Flickr

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