90 Second Summary: FDA Food Safety Modernization Act

(11AM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

For Episode 7, we look ahead to next month’s lame duck session and preview a bill likely to be examined in the Senate in the first week back. The “food safety bill” enjoys strong bipartisan support and is likely to receive over 90 Senate votes if it gets that far, but is being blocked from consideration by Sen. Coburn for budgetary reasons.

Its fate at this point will be determined almost entirely by the amount of floor time Democratic leaders are willing to spend on it. But in case you’d like to nudge them one way or the other and want to learn more beforehand, here’s the skinny on S. 510, The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.

One-page summary below the fold…

S. 510: FDA Food Safety Modernization Act

Introduced 3/3/2009

Sponsor: Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)

Key cosponsors: Judd Gregg (R-NH), Chris Dodd (D-CT), Richard Burr (R-NC), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mike Enzi (R-WY)

Click here to download this summary (pdf)

Cosponsors: 20 (12 Democrats, 8 Republicans). Full list at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d111:SN00510:@@@P

Status: Motion to proceed to floor debate filed 9/29. Held up by Sen. Coburn. May be revisited in lame duck session.

House Companion: H.R. 2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act, passed the House in July 2009 by a 283-142 margin. Similar but not identical. The more direct, but still not identical, companion is H.R. 1332, Safe FEAST Act of 2009.

Purpose: Significant gaps exist in America’s food safety paradigm. We have witnessed numerous outbreaks of food-borne illnesses in recent years, affecting items such as spinach, eggs, peanuts and pet food. According to Sen. Durbin, nearly 76 million Americans are affected by foodborne illnesses each year, hospitalizing 325,000 and killing 5,000. If measures like increased usage of filters and strainers (get the facts here) in food processing factories, as well as tougher regulations on contaminants are put in place, then the number of food illnesses could decrease. Yet the FDA lacks the authority and resources to adequately regulate the nation’s food supply given these new and daunting challenges.

Summary: This legislation would expand the powers of the Food and Drug Administration and related agencies to fortify the food safety framework. Particular new abilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

• Conduct more frequent inspections, including required annual inspections of high-risk facilities

• Set forth requirements for mandatory testing

• Order mandatory recalls after allowing responsible parties the opportunity to cease distribution voluntarily

• Shut down facilities in consistent violation of safety regulations

• Access records to determine the source of an outbreak

• Produce more comprehensive tracking and data collection methods

• Establish standards and regulations, and issue guidance documents to ensure firms are aware of these standards

• Help state, local and tribal governments stay prepared to handle agriculture and food emergencies

• Ensure that imported products meet the same standards imposed upon domestically produced food

See the full CRS bill summary (link below) for further details.

The recently released manager’s amendment contains a number of added amendments, mostly meant to lessen the burden on small farms, processors and wholesalers. Details at http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/senate-food-safety-bill/

CBO Score: Estimated cost of $1.4 billion over the 2011-2015 period.

Full review: http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/117xx/doc11794/s510.pdf

Supporters: President Obama, Consumer Federation of America, Grocery Manufacturers Association, etc.

• Supporters view this legislation as a long overdue modernization of the nation’s food safety management systems, saving lives and averting the substantial economic costs resulting from food-borne illnesses.

Opposition: Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, etc.

• Opponents see this as a costly and burdensome intrusion into the food industry, one that could put independent and organic producers out of business. Small and sustainable farms may be exempted from certain regulations in the version that ultimately reaches the floor, potentially mitigating their opposition.

Further links

Full bill text (as amended by Harkin substitute): http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=s111-510

Official CRS summary: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s111-510&tab=summary

Short summary from Sen. Durbin’s office: http://durbin.senate.gov/issues/leg_foodsafety.cfm

Article on Obama advocacy efforts for this legislation: http://www.ombwatch.org/node/11123

Sen. Coburn’s explanation of opposition: http://coburn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2010/9/detailed-concerns-with-s-510-the-fda-food-safety-modernization-act-of-2010


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  1. It promotes big pharama, big chemical and of course Monsanto’s patented GMO frankenfoods while going after cheap natural cancer cures, vitamins and suppliments, homeopathy in general, non-pasturized milk and organic farmers.

    Basically one irradiates the food taking the nutrients out of it.  All of the animals have to be Homeboy Stupidity microchipped and a massive outsourced IT database in India has to approve and GPS track the movement of said animals from birth to slaughterhouse.

    SWAT teams gear up for full out assault on organic farmers, home gardens are banned and all firearms are to be confiscated.

    • Mike on October 12, 2010 at 16:50

    The previous commenter has obviously ventured into a self-created fantasy land. This bill does not mandate computer chip tracking of livestock, does not call for irradiation, and specifically protects organic standards.

    Under this bill it would be impossible to mandate GMO foods, the bill does nothing new regarding supplements or raw milk, and certainly does not address home gardens or firearms.

    The previous commenter is suffering from a bout of paranoia.

  2. shows the contempt normal people have for this Satanically inspired piece of shit.


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