Congress is on the verge of passing a landmark bill aimed at improving food safety, after the Senate passed the proposal for the second time Sunday and sent it over to the House.
The following is a point-by-point overview of what's in the bill and how it would authorize new regulatory checks on food production and distribution:
-- The Department of Health and Human Services secretary would have the authority to inspect the records for food deemed to be susceptible to contamination.
-- The HHS secretary would have the authority to suspend the registration of any food facility deemed to be a health risk.
-- The bill would require food facilities to evaluate potential hazards to their food and keep records on how they are monitoring and correcting these potential problems.
-- The bill would require the HHS secretary to establish new standards for the harvesting of some fruits and vegetables and publish updated guidance.
-- The secretary would be able to collect fees for food recalls and food facility re-inspections.
-- The secretary would be required to draft new regulations for the sanitary transportation of food.
-- The secretary would be required to provide schools and other educational institutions with plans for managing the risk from food allergies and anaphylaxis in schools. Implementation would be voluntary.
-- The secretary would be required to increase inspection at food facilities and report to Congress annually.
-- The secretary would be authorized to shut down distribution at any facility regarding a contaminated or misbranded food if the facility does not do so voluntarily. The secretary would also be able to order a recall -- after a hearing is held.
-- The bill would encourage the secretary to investigate compliance with the act through officials at the state and local level.
-- The bill would require importers of food to verify that the products they are importing meet safety standards and are not contaminated.
-- The bill would block imported food that does not meet certain safety requirements from entering the country.
-- The bill would set up Food and Drug Administration offices in foreign countries to offer assistance with keeping food exported to the United States up to FDA standards.