House defeats food safety bill; another vote to come

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives on Wednesday failed to pass the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 (H.R. 2749). The legislation, which would require more government inspections and oversight of food manufacturers, received 280 votes for and 150 votes against, just shy of the necessary two-thirds vote required for passage.

The bill, which was pushed to the floor for a quick vote under a special ruling, is expected to be voted on again under normal House rules, maybe as soon as today.

Leslie G. Sarasin, president and chief executive officer of The Food Marketing Institute, expressed disappointment in the House vote.

"Although the majority of the House of Representatives voted in favor of the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, we are disappointed the legislation did not pass as a result of the House rules process in place for this particular vote, which required approval by two-thirds of those voting," Ms. Sarasin said. "We urge the House of Representatives to consider the bill under regular order, which requires a simple majority.

"This bill endows the Food and Drug Administration with new powers such as mandatory recall authority, which will improve its ability to safeguard the food supply. We support the measure’s recognition of fully accredited third-party food safety certification programs and the need to develop traceability initiatives that build on industry efforts already under way."

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