Today, The New York Times reports, the Senate passed an overhaul of regulations aimed at increasing food safety in the United States. The bill passed by a vote of 73 to 25 and gives the Food and Drug Administration a broad array of new powers. The House passed its own version of the legislation earlier this year.
In response to outbreaks caused by contaminated food over the past few years, the bill raises standards at the plants of food suppliers, requiring that they write plans to safely make food and that they perform routine tests. It also gives the F.D.A. the power to force companies to recall their food, whereas the F.D.A. can only currently request recalls, and it increases the number of F.D.A. inspections at food processing plants. The legislation exempts small food producers from many of the new safety requirements.
The bill passed with bipartisan support, and with the support of both food-safety advocates and companies in the food industry, the latter of which seeks regulation in order to increase the appearance of safety in the American food industry. Sen. Tom Coburn, however, sought to alter the legislation, arguing that what is needed is less, not more, regulation of the food industry. His version of the bill failed in the Senate.