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12-27-2010 - Food Safety Bill Passed

On December 21, 2010, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2751, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act with a vote of 215 to 144.. The Senate had passed H.R. 2751 on December 19, 2010. According to sources, H.R. 2751 is virtually identical to Senate-passed S. 510 (with the addition of technical changes made by H.R. 3082 that was also recently passed by the House). As both the House and Senate have now passed the same version of food safety legislation, H.R. 2751 will go to the President for signature. This bill will grant the Food and Drug Administration greater authority over food production.

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 prevent food-borne illnesses. Companies must share those plans with the F.D.A., and provide the agency with records, including product test results, and implementation plans.The act includes but is not limited to, new importer requirements and fees, certification for high risk food imports, and verification of foreign suppliers.

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 execute the law.

The bill was supported by consumer and public health advocates and major industry groups, which have seen the harm that huge recalls can do to sales.

The law will affect the 80 percent of the food supply that is regulated by the F.D.A. However, it does not apply to most meat and poultry products, which are regulated by the Agriculture Department.

Food importers should contact their Geo. S. Bush representative for the most up to date information, (503) 228-6501 or email info@geosbush.com.