a farm in Northern California
a farm in Northern California

[Updated] Senate Votes on Sweeping Food Safety Bill

Updated: Yesterday evening the Senate passed the Food Safety Bill, otherwise known as the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, or S.510. The bill passed on a 73-25 vote. It now goes to the House, which is widely expected to pass it, and then to President Obama. As The Atlantic reported this morning, the most controversial element of this bill -- restrictions on bisphenol-A, a chemical in plastics -- had been dropped, which made the bill considerably easier to pass. The food safety bill was introduced by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) in March 2009.

Turn the page for the original post, published November 29th.

Today's the day we all return to work after the Thanksgiving holiday -- including (gasp) the U.S. Senate, which votes this evening on the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, S.510. If passed, the bill would give new authority to the FDA to regulate food, including increasing the frequency of inspections, requiring food facilities to have food safety plans, and giving the FDA mandatory recall authority and the ability to hold imported food to the same standard as domestic food. It would be the biggest change to food safety laws in 70 years.

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The bill is controversial, and has often pitted small farmers against food safety interest groups and larger growers. A recent amendment by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) to exempt small farms and producers under certain circumstances has increased support, as have

changes added to ensure that the FDA heed national organic standards, as well as conservation and wildlife directives.

In an op-ed piece in yesterday's New York Times, Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser called the bill "the best opportunity in a generation to improve the safety of the American food supply." The bill has received bipartisan support and is expected to pass both the Senate and the House.


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