The Senate will vote on S. 510, its final version of the FDA Food Safety and Modernization Act, in an evening vote beginning at 6:30 PM EST tonight. The House passed its version with a large margin of supporters some time ago, so it seems safe to presume some form of expanded federal legislation on food safety is well on the way to becoming final. The bill’s sponsor in the Senate is Richard Durbin (R – IL), who leads a bipartisan roster of 20 co-sponsors.
Open Congress summarized some provisions of the bill, but tonight’s vote includes a couple of potentially significant amendments that aren’t that closely linked to the issue of food safety. Take for example the two competing amendments from Republicans and Democrats that would repeal the 1099 reporting requirement previously passed in the healthcare reform bill, which has all small business owners issuing IRS-1099 forms to any vendor paid $600 more in the tax year. The original reason for this reporting requirement was probably to help the IRS track taxable income to vendors and service providers, but it could greatly increase the reporting burden and expenses for small businesses. The food bill also includes an amendment introduced by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), which formalizes the self-imposed Republican ban on earmarks.
Provisions of the Food Safety Bill will allow:
- FDA to order a recall if a food facility does not initiate a voluntary recall
- New standards for produce safety during production and harvesting
- Fees (or fines, depending on your perspective) for recalls or government reinspection of facilities
- Regulation of sanitary food transport
- Development of new school guidelines for managing food allergens
- Implementation of a National Agricultural and Food Defense Strategy
Local Food Exemption: An earlier Senate compromise exempts farmers who make less than $500,000 per year and sell directly to consumers, restaurants and groceries within a 275-mile radius of their farms from some of the bill’s requirements, such as the development of comprehensive food safety hazard analyis and critical controls (HACCP) plan.
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