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.