WASHINGTON — The Senate passed the sweeping Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act on Tuesday by a 73-25 vote, setting the stage for reconciliation with a similar House version that passed last year.
The bill, S. 510, would expand the powers of the FDA to police food safety, order recalls, and require producers to draw up formal food-safety plans, among other changes.
The House version offered more funding to the FDA to carry out the bill's mandates, and allowed fewer exceptions to its rules, but according to a report in the New York Times, leading House Democrats have said they will consider simply passing the Senate's version of the bill to ensure approval before the end of the current Congress.
The bill was widely supported in the food industry, although some groups withdrew their support last week after exemptions were added for small producers.
“With today’s Senate vote, we have taken another important step toward modernizing America’s food safety network and focusing on preventing problems before they occur, rather than just reacting to them," said Leslie G. Sarasin, president and chief executive officer, Food Marketing Institute, in a prepared statement.
"This landmark legislation provides FDA with the resources and authorities the agency needs to help strengthen our nation's food safety system by making prevention the focus of our food safety strategies," said Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO, Grocery Manufacturers Association. "We urge the House of Representatives to swiftly follow suit so that the president can sign this important legislation as soon as possible."