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Senate Bill S 510: Impact on Food Safety Reform

Following the recent election, there have been rumblings in the U.S. senate about the potential outcomes of the pending Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act, which could be approved as soon as this week.

The bill is intended to help provide safer food and more accountability from food companies in the United States.  While detractors of the bill feel that it might give the U.S. government too much authority over the public’s right to produce and transport food,  the bill has the potential to impact consumers in a positive way.

Fewer Food Borne Illness: Because the U.S. government will impose stricter regulations on the production and handling of foods, experts suggest that it may increase food safety and keep the public healthier.

Know Where Your Food Comes From: Given the volume of FDA recalls in the past year, the government has proposed a stricter regulatory system, making it easier for companies to track contaminated product once it has already hit store shelves. This means you can feel better about the foods you buy in stores, even if it’s a product that was recently recalled.

Food will be subject to stringent inspection requirements.
The new bill will call for higher food inspection standards for high risk foods – such as produce that can take up contaminated water or foods that spoil easily, like fresh seafood. The bill gives the FDA power to decrease the amount of time between inspections – so your food is inspected more often – and mandate annual, in-depth inspections of the companies that produce or import high risk foods.

Food prices will remain the same.
While the costs of food production might rise, there is no way to know whether the rise is a result of the bill or of other external factors that occur throughout the year.  For small companies and local farmers, the bill includes exemptions and special accommodations, recognizing that some companies may not be able to compete with the large, global companies that the bill is meant to protect.

If the bill passes in the Senate, the House of Representatives, which approved a version of the bill in 2009, will have to negotiate differences in legislation before the bill is sent to the president for final approval.

What are your thoughts on the bill? Will you be happy to see stricter food safety regulations in place?

November 18th, 2010

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