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Senate to Resume Action on Food Safety Bill Today

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.

After the amendments are settled, the long-awaited food safety bill is expected to easily clear the 51-vote hurdle to pass the full Senate.  Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), a key lawmaker backing the bill, said earlier this month that the House has agreed to take up, and pass, the Senate version of the bill, which would send the measure to the president’s desk, but it remains to be seen whether that will come to fruition.

Yesterday, the New York Times featured an Op-Ed by authors, and sustainable food movement heroes, Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser, in favor of the bill, which they call “the best opportunity in a generation to improve the safety of the American food supply.”

Though all signs point to passage, opposition has grown louder in recent weeks, from the Tea Party, Glenn Beck, and small farmers unconvinced that the Tester amendment will protect them from potentially burdensome regulations. The bill has also lost support from major produce industry groups, who previously actively supported the measure, after the small farm exemption was negotiated into the final package.

To watch the action in the Senate, tune into C-SPAN here – or watch CSPAN 2.  The first vote is tentatively scheduled to begin around 6:30 EST.

© Food Safety News
  • John

    This bill is wrong for America we know many Senators that would vote for this bill were fired Nov 3, let them not think they will escape innocently back to there home towns they will not be welcome in America if they sell out America for Monsanto money.

  • http://www.healthyfoodcoalition.org hhamil

    The description of Sen. Tom Coburn’s substitute bill as only “an alternative, scaled-back food safety bill” is VERY MISLEADING. As the new name for S 510 (“Ensuring Greater Food Safety Act of 2010”) implies, Dr. Coburn’s bill is oriented toward action from very quick to longer term. It addresses important issues of food safety regulation which S 510 omits.
    A good example is the requirement is in Sec. 2. Ensuring Federal agencies effectively communicate to ensure greater food safety which states, “not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary or Agriculture shall establish a plan to ensure effective information sharing regarding the regulation and inspection of food products and facilities, including violations, in which the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture share joint, overlapping, or similar responsibility.”
    As one of people organizing opposition to the bill manager’s version of S 510, I can definitively state that FSN’s list of opponents is far too short and mischaracterizes us. For example, I’m pretty certain that almost every Tea Partyer is also ONLY involved in food as a consumer. In addition, most of the customers at my wife’s and my year-round store for local food are opposed to S 510. Their involvement is also only as consumers; so FSN needs to acknowledge the huge consumer component of the opposition to S 510.
    Plus, every farmer understands the difference between a crop and food (as does Sen. Coburn’s substitute bill). The earliest a “crop” can become “food” is after it has been harvested. “Crops” are the appropriate domain of the USDA NOT the FDA. The current style of the FDA’s guidance documents (e.g., “Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards of Leafy Greens” http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/GuidanceDocuments/ProduceandPlanProducts/ucm174200.htm) shows its fundamental misunderstanding of how we grow local, healthy food.
    And, thanks for including the reminder and links for readers to listen to the debate. All Americans need to become well informed on the myriad issues and impacts of this important debate.
    For more info, please write me at healthyfoodcoalition@gmail.com. There additional information at http://www.healthyfoodcoalition.org.

  • Hans Hoffmann

    If one senator would ask for a hold on the bill until January when the new senators would have a chance to vote or at least discuss the bill and perhaps even defeat this horrendous legislation that the globalists wpassed for their benefit.

  • http://www.healthyfoodcoalition.org Harry Hamil

    The description of Sen. Tom Coburn’s substitute bill as only “an alternative, scaled-back food safety bill” is VERY MISLEADING. As the new name for S 510 (“Ensuring Greater Food Safety Act of 2010”) implies, Dr. Coburn’s bill is oriented toward action from very quick to longer term. It addresses important issues of food safety regulation which S 510 omits.
    A good example is the requirement is in Sec. 2. Ensuring Federal agencies effectively communicate to ensure greater food safety which states, “not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary or Agriculture shall establish a plan to ensure effective information sharing regarding the regulation and inspection of food products and facilities, including violations, in which the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture share joint, overlapping, or similar responsibility.”
    As one of people organizing opposition to the bill manager’s version of S 510, I can definitively state that FSN’s list of opponents is far too short and mischaracterizes us. For example, I’m pretty certain that almost every Tea Partyer is also ONLY involved in food as a consumer. In addition, most of the customers at my wife’s and my year-round store for local food are opposed to S 510. Their involvement is also only as consumers; so FSN needs to acknowledge the huge consumer component of the opposition to S 510.
    Plus, every farmer understands the difference between a crop and food (as does Sen. Coburn’s substitute bill). The earliest a “crop” can become “food” is after it has been harvested. “Crops” are the appropriate domain of the USDA NOT the FDA. The current style of the FDA’s guidance documents (e.g., “Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards of Leafy Greens” http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/GuidanceDocuments/ProduceandPlanProducts/ucm174200.htm) shows its fundamental misunderstanding of how we grow local, healthy food.
    And, thanks for including the reminder and links for readers to listen to the debate. All Americans need to become well informed on the myriad issues and impacts of this important debate.
    For more info, please write me at healthyfoodcoalition@gmail.com. There additional information at http://www.healthyfoodcoalition.org.

  • Kev

    Yes, let’s wait ’til January to vote on the bill so all the Teabagging, no government oversight people who were elected can further declaw the FDA. With Bush and the Republicans in charge for eight years, more and more regulations were pushed to wayside and our food supply is now in perilous shape. Doesn’t anyone remember all the e-coli, salmonella, mad cow, etc… scares, where people actually died, over the past ten years? I guess corporate profit is more important than the lives of the citizens of this country.

  • http://dallaspaintershq.com/ Dallas Painters HQ

    They are sneaking another Socialist inspired piece of dung into our lives and driving up our cost of living! I hope and pray we vote everyone of the Socialist/Progressive idiots out in 2012. I will most certainly be doing my part to make it happen….

  • Name: Mark

    So, the FDA gets to hire more inspectors but Federal employee’s salaries are frozen in an effort to save money? How about not hiring more workers?

  • Hal Warning

    You should spend a little more money and try to buy locally grown produce and locally raised meat. Take time to check into the source of your food. It costs a little more but it’s worth it.