[US] House passes food safety legislation

July 31, 2009

31 July 2009

[US] House passes food safety legislation

The following is excerpted from today's edition of "American Shipper".

The U.S. House approved comprehensive legislation Thursday to enhance regulatory oversight of the nation’s domestic and imported food supply....

Congress has been under immense public pressure to pass legislation to enhance Food and Drug Administration’s food supply oversight and enforcement after recent cases of contaminated raw cookie dough, spinach, peanuts and peppers that sickened hundreds of people and caused some deaths.

The legislation would require that all food-handling facilities conduct hazard analyses, assess potential food safety risks, and develop plans to keep the food supply safe. It establishes FDA food safety standards for produce and creates a food trace-back system so that FDA and public health officials can more easily determine the causes of food-borne disease outbreaks, and gives the agency new tools to keep the food supply safe. All food handling facilities will be assessed a $500 annual registration fee to help pay for the measures.

The food industry, including some of the biggest trade groups such as the United Fresh Produce Association and Grocery Manufacturers Association, generally supported the House bill's provisions.

In specific, United noted that the House bill kept a mandate for traceability across all foods, but without prescriptive dictates that could have set back the association’s current Produce Traceability Initiative, exempted produce from any duplicative requirements for country of origin labeling, and assured equal treatment of imported and domestic produce in food safety standards....

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