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Organic Consumers Association

House Passes Final Food Safety Bill

William Neuman reported in today's New York Times that, "The House of Representatives gave final approval on Tuesday to a long-awaited modernization of the nation's food safety laws, voting 215 to 144 to grant the Food and Drug Administration greater authority over food production.

"The bill, which President Obama has indicated he will sign, is meant to change the mission of the F.D.A., focusing it on preventing food-borne illnesses rather than reacting after an outbreak occurs. The overhaul comes after several major outbreaks and food recalls in recent years involving salmonella in eggs and peanuts, and E. coli in spinach and other leafy greens.

"Under the legislation, food manufacturers will be required to examine their processing systems to identify possible ways that food products can become contaminated and to develop detailed plans to keep that from happening. Companies must share those plans with the F.D.A., and provide the agency with records, including product test results, showing how effectively they carry them out."

The Times article noted that, "While the legislation contains many changes that advocates had long pursued, many of its important provisions, including the requirement that companies put in place food safety plans, do not go into effect for as long as 18 months. The agency will use much of that time to write rules that it needs to carry out the law.


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