Houses Passes Strong Food Safety Reform

The House of Representatives just passed the bipartisan Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009. If enacted, the legislation would strengthen the FDA, increase inspections of food facilities, and hopefully ensure that tragedies like the Peanut Corporation of America salmonella outbreak become a thing of the past.

What the bill does:

  • Increases the frequency of inspections of food facilities, and calls for more frequent inspections for higher-risk facilities.
  • Gives the FDA the authority to order a mandatory recall of contaminated food (currently, the FDA has to ask the facility to initiate a recall).
  • Requires that food processors-with certain exemptions, such as farms-annually register with the FDA and pay a $500 registration fee to help offset the costs of inspection.
  • Requires that facilities report testing results to FDA whenever they test food for contamination or adulteration. This helps address what Peanut Corporation of America was doing, which was ignoring positive salmonella tests till it got a negative result from a different lab.

What the bill doesn’t do:

  • Affect anything under the USDA’s jurisdiction. This includes dairy, livestock, and poultry.
  • Create any sort of on-farm inspection scheme or regulate farmers markets, despite claims to the contrary.
  • Create a single food safety agency. (This is a good idea, though, and one that deserves consideration.)

(Photo: ianjacobs)