Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a comprehensive food-safety bill that could affect virtually every aspect of the nation’s food supply chain. The 159-page Food Safety Enhancement Act represents the first major changes to food safety laws in 70 years and would significantly boost the Food and Drug Administration’s authority to regulate how food is grown, harvested, and processed.
The Senate is expected to vote on its version of food-safety legislation this fall.
Lawmakers have been prompted to action by recent outbreaks of food-borne illnesses. As incredible as it sounds, statistics from the federal government show that food illnesses now sicken one in four Americans and kill 5,000 each year. Of course, the food industry suffers from these outbreaks, too, losing not only precious consumer confidence, but billions of dollars in sales and legal costs, as well.
“Americans are dying because the Food and Drug Administration does not have authority to protect them and American producers and agriculture are being hurt,” Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the bill’s author, said in the Washington Post. “This will fundamentally change the way in which we ensure the safety of our food supply.”
If you’re wondering about what the House bill covers, and what it doesn’t –and whether or not your suppliers will be impacted by the new regulations and $500 annual fee –see the excellent Q&A in this article from today’s Chicago Tribune.