05 January 2011, 18:39 BST
The Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) signed into law Tuesday by President Obama includes provisions that protect small and local food producers and processors.
The Center for Food Safety (CFS) applauded the passage the bill, which also gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) a greater ability to safeguard our nation's food system, the group said. The new law gives the FDA the authority to order mandatory food recalls as well as require food facilities to put food safety plans in place.
The bill also includes provisions introduced by Senators Tester and Hagan that protect small and local food producers and processors.
On November 18, Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), the only organic farmer in Congress, reached an agreement with the authors of S. 510 to include a new, compromise version of the Tester-Hagan amendment in the Senate food safety bill. The amendment exempts small farmers and processors who sell directly to consumers and end users from FDA regulation due to their direct relationship with their customers that ensures quality, safety, transparency and accountability. For these small farmers and processors, the costs of complying with all the new federal requirements would be burdensome and add little to food safety. They still must meet all state and local food safety requirements.
"Our support for the bill recognizes that several lamentable concessions in the main bill were made to appease the industry and put a stop to delaying tactics preventing a vote on the bill." said Jaydee Hanson, Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Food Safety. "These included removing important provisions that would have allowed FDA to bring criminal charges against producers who knowingly ship tainted food to consumers as well as reducing the frequency of FDA inspections to once every five years."
Nonetheless, passing the food safety legislation was a "significant victory for consumers," according to Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director for the Center for Food Safety. "This legislation will finally give FDA the long awaited mandatory recall authority it needs to ensure that the same companies who sicken the public do not dictate the recall of their products," Kimbrell said.
Source: Sustainable Business