Politics

Senate Action on Food Safety Bill Delayed Until Tuesday

Senate action on legislation revamping the nation's food safety laws will be delayed until Tuesday morning.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced Monday afternoon that two amendments (Coburn earmark ban, Coburn substitute that pays for food safety --- neither of which are expected to get the 67 votes needed for passage) and final passage of the food safety legislation will start at 9:00 am Tuesday.

The final bill is expected to pass. The House still must vote on the bill as well but is expected to pass without much difficulty.

Here is a breakdown of some major regulations that will become law if the bill passes:

• Gives the FDA long-sought power to force a company to recall foods believed to be contaminated and to impose fees on those companies under a mandatory recall.

• Authorizes the FDA to impose new fees for reinspecting those facilities and for registering food importers.

• Requires FDA to inspect registered domestic "high risk" food producers (as defined by HHS - parent of FDA) at least once five years after passage of the bill.

• Requires food processors, growers, and importers to meet additional safety requirements for high-risk foods and to meet new safety and security rules for the importation of food.

• Requires companies to turn over test results and other records to federal officials on domestic or imported food items believed to be contaminated.

• Requires imported food suppliers to meet established food safety requirements with a certification.

• Requires food processors to impose and monitor food safety systems.

There are certainly critics of this bill. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., for instance, says this bill amounts to regulatory overreach.

Some have criticized recently-added language that exempts small farmers and food facilities with less than $500,000 in annual sales that directly market to consumers within a 275-mile area.