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American Shipper

U.S. food safety bill heads to president’s desk

U.S. food safety bill heads to presidentÆs desk

   By a vote of 215 to 144, the U.S. House on Tuesday passed legislation to boost the Food and Drug Administration's oversight of the nation's food safety.

   The Food Safety Modernization Act, which also passed the Senate on Nov. 30, will now head to President Obama's desk for signature.

   The enhanced FDA oversight hopes to reduce disease outbreaks connected to unclean foods. Recent outbreaks have involved eggs, lettuce, spinach, cookie dough and peanut products.

   Some of the legislation's reforms include:

   ' Requirements for written food safety plans.

   ' A broad view that addresses both U.S. and non-U.S. product.

   ' Mandatory recall authority for the FDA.

   ' Commodity-specific protocols for fresh produce.

   While the fruit and vegetable industry, led mostly by the United Fresh Produce Association and Produce Marketing Association, has largely supported the legislation, it remains concerned about regulatory exemptions added for small farms and retailers.

   'We remain fearful that this profound error will come back to haunt Congress, public health agencies, and even those who thought they would benefit from food safety exemptions, but more importantly, we are fearful of what may slip through the food safety loopholes created by the Tester/Hagan Amendment and adversely affect consumers in the United States,' said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy at United Fresh.

   Going forward, Guenther said United Fresh will continue to 'work with our allies in the new Congress, voicing our strong support for uniform, risk-based food safety standards to which all can be held accountable, regardless of size.'