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Senate Prepares for Bipartisan Vote on Food Safety Legislation

Aug 20, 2010

A bipartisan group of senators last week released a compromise package of changes to S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. One change, recommended and supported by IDFA, is the recognition of the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance as a dairy inspection standard. The agreement increases the likelihood that food safety legislation will be sent to President Obama before Congress adjourns for the year.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Mike Enzi (R-WY), ranking member, negotiated these changes along with Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Chris Dodd (D-CT), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Judd Gregg (R-NH).

IDFA has been supportive of the Senate bill, originally introduced by Durbin in March 2009, and has worked with the HELP committee to seek improvements in the legislation. In response to last year's rise in reported incidence of foodborne illnesses from raw milk, for example, IDFA sent a letter to committee leaders Harkin and Enzi. Specifically, IDFA called for the recognition of the PMO in the bill to ensure that new requirements are coordinated with state inspection programs operating under the PMO and that raw milk facilities are included in Food and Drug Administration inspections.

Bill Recognizes PMO as Dairy Standard

The bipartisan package now includes a provision that would require FDA to consider the PMO and other existing dairy inspection standards when developing new preventive-controls requirements and to use existing state inspections where possible to avoid duplication. Senator Herb Kohl (D - WI), who chairs the committee that funds the FDA, supported these changes to make dairy inspection more efficient.

The legislation also would limit how FDA puts in place new requirements to track and trace food through the food manufacturing and distribution process. Specifically, FDA would not be allowed to apply new tracking or recordkeeping requirements to "commingled raw agricultural commodities," which include milk before pasteurization. In addition, FDA would be required to assess the costs and benefits of product-tracing technologies and to consider current practices.

"The Senate food safety bill has been improved through bipartisan input, and IDFA supports the bill and the improvements that were included to consider inspection processes in the dairy industry," said Ruth Saunders, IDFA vice president of policy and legislative affairs.

Other Amendments in the Offing

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has indicated that he wants the food safety bill to be considered by the Senate when it returns in September. If the Senate can successfully work out possible amendments by Senators Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Jon Testor (D-MT) and pass the bill, it will be subject to a conference with the House of Representatives. The House passed its version of the legislation in July 2009.

Read the comprosmise package here. 

Members with questions on the food safety legislation may contact Saunders at (202) 220-3553 or


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