The U.S. Senate "Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009" passed out of committee by a voice vote on Wednesday, taking the first step toward full consideration on the Senate floor. IDFA and 13 other food industry organizations voiced their continued support of the bill and its recommended improvements in a letter sent the night before to committee leaders. Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) (pictured right) and Ranking Member Michael Enzi (R-WY) (pictured left) led the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to a quick resolution and vote.
"Senators Harkin and Enzi deserve great credit for preserving and protecting the bipartisan bill that was offered by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL)," said Ruth Saunders, IDFA vice president of policy and legislative affairs. "It reflects broad input from the food industry, consumer groups and many other stakeholders."
The County-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) for Dairy Products bill, S.1783, was not attached to the food safety legislation during markup. IDFA had expressed concern to committee members about the dairy bill, which would create onerous new labeling requirements for dairy products. At the mark up, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), one of the authors of the COOL bill for dairy, indicated that he would like to offer a COOL amendment for all processed food products and will gather information from industry representatives going forward.
IDFA also worked with the National Milk Producers Federation to highlight dairy-specific issues, such as regulating facilities that produce raw milk for direct human consumption, for the committee. (See "IDFA, NMPF Urge Senators to Include Raw Milk in Food Safety Act." The two dairy groups hope to see Congress and the Food and Drug Administration support these issues during consideration and ultimately implementation of the final bill.
The next step for this legislation, consideration by the full Senate, has not been scheduled but may take place before the end of the year.
For more information, contact Saunders at email@example.com or (202) 220-3553.