Legislation unveiled  by a bipartisan group of Senators yesterday moved the bill one step closer to the end game. Who says nothing gets done in Washington during August recess?

________________________________________________________

The Senate’s lack of movement on the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act before the August recess began this week caused some hand-wringing amongst food safety advocates, but yesterday’s announcement of an agreement on legislative language gave cause for renewed hope that Senators are gearing up for a September vote.

The 225 page-long bill released yesterday is the Senate’s counterpart to the House food safety bill, which passed last summer.    It would require more frequent inspections of food processing facilities and give the FDA the power to order mandatory recalls of unsafe food.

Two of the more contentious proposals were left out of the compromise bill:  Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) provision to ban BPA from food packaging, and exemptions for small farmers proposed by Senator John Tester (D-MT).  Sen. Feinstein  instead plans to offer an amendment to ban BPA from all baby bottles, sippy cups, baby food and infant formula.

Food Safety News highlighted the following statement released by the members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee who negotiated the bill language:

“Any 100-year-old plus structure-like our nation’s food safety system-needs improvements,” said the lawmakers in a joint statement.  “With this announcement today, we aim to not just patch and mend our fragmented food safety system, we hope to reinforce the infrastructure, close the gaps, and create a systematic, risk-based and balanced approach to food safety in the United States.”

Consumers Union released this statement on the Senate agreement:

“It looks like the food safety bill is moving to the front burner, and that’s good news.  Over the past year alone, there have been sixty recalls of contaminated food ranging from romaine lettuce to Froot Loops, so it’s become brutally clear that reforms need to become law this year. Today’s announcement is a good sign that senators are willing to put politics aside for the sake of making our food safer. We’re anxious to see the details of the Senate legislation.”