WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives passed H.R. 2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act, on July 30. The bill passed by a vote of 283 to 142. It is anticipated the Senate will address the issue in the fall, after the summer recess.
"This reform means that common-sense updates will be put in place to reform our food safety system, which has remained largely unchanged for a century," said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the Trust for Americas Health. "Americans have a right to expect their government will ensure the food safety system is focused on fighting modern-day threats and will prevent unnecessary illness. This victory is a great start."
Key provisions included in H.R. 2749 include granting mandatory recall authority to the Food and Drug Administration; requiring annual registration with the F.D.A. by food processors, importers and handlers; annual inspection of food processing operations determined to be high risk; and the creation of a traceability system that will allow inspectors to trace a product’s origin within two days.
"House passage of The Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 marks an important milestone," said Pamela G. Bailey, president and chief executive officer of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Washington. "This legislation will strengthen our nation’s food safety net by placing prevention as the cornerstone of our nation’s food safety strategy and providing F.D.A. with the resources and authorities it needs to adequately fulfill its food safety mission. Combined with increased industry resources and vigilance, this legislation represents a once in a lifetime opportunity to modernize our food safety system and restore the public’s faith in the safety and security of the food supply."
On July 29, the House of Representatives failed to pass H.R. 2749. The bill was pushed to the floor for a quick vote under a special ruling. The legislation received 280 votes for and 150 votes against, just shy of the necessary two-thirds vote required for passage.