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Senate passes federal food safety bill

November 30, 2010

Senate passes federal food safety bill
            Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said today’s passage of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act is a major advance towards safeguarding the nation’s food supply.
            “Americans deserve to feel certain that the food they serve their family is safe, wholesome and nutritious,” Strain said. “This new legislation paves the way for a stronger, safer food supply through tighter regulation and control of the supply chain.
“Our farmers and ranchers are held to a high standard of food safety in this country and we should expect every level of the food supply chain including imported food stuffs to be held to the same standard.”
Some provisions of the bill include:
  • Expanding the food recall authority of the FDA;
  • Establishing science-based minimum standards for safe production and harvesting of specific types of fresh fruits and vegetables;
  • Allocates additional funding for facility inspections and food imported into the United States based on their risk profiles and increases inspections of all facilities;
  • Requires mandatory testing by federal laboratories or accredited nonfederal laboratories;
  • Improves traceability of fresh fruits and vegetables in the event of a food-borne illness outbreak;
  • Sets up a pilot program to explore and evaluate methods for rapidly and effectively tracing processed foods to identify the source of an outbreak;
  • Establishes training and education programs for state, local, territorial and tribal food safety officials on regulatory responsibilities and polices;
  • Establishes stricter food safety controls on imported food;
  • Authorizes officials to refuse entry of imported food into the U.S. if permission to inspect the food facility is denied;
  • Determine if a foreign country can provide reasonable assurances that its food supply meets or exceeds U.S. food safety standards.
Strain said he is committed to improving food safety on a statewide level.
“In 2010, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry helped establish traceability rules on strawberries requiring all strawberries sold in Louisiana to have a ‘farm of origin’ label affixed to the packaging,” Strain said. “The measure provides a useful reference in case food safety or other health issues arise.”
Strain said a number of recent nationwide food recalls demonstrated the need to reform food safety rules.
“I’m pleased Congress has developed this new food safety plan,” Strain said. “As much as I dislike additional red tape for farmers to navigate, I believe these new measures will provide the framework to strengthen our food supply chain and prevent adulterated and contaminated food from entering the markets in the future.”
Senator David Vitter cosponsored the bill and Senator Mary Landrieu voted in favor.
The bill must receive approval by the House of Representatives before heading to the president’s desk.