Senate moves on food safety -- finally
Before we get consumed by Elena-mania (President Obama is set to pick Solicitor General Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court later this morning, in case you somehow haven't heard), I'd like to point out this little, yet significant, news nugget nestled in Saturday's paper about peace breaking out in the Senate. "A food-safety bill headed to the Senate floor later this month has picked up GOP co-sponsors," wrote The Post's Shailagh Murray. This is great news for all of us, but especially for those who have suffered through E. coli and salmonella outbreaks in a maddeningly long list of tainted foods -- including tomatoes, jalapenos, peanuts, pistachios and spinach.
The House passed its comprehensive food-safety bill ages ago. But the bill has gone nowhere since it arrived in the Senate last August. Not even the March recall of more than 100 products containing hydrolyzed vegetable protein sold by Basic Food Flavors (one of the largest food recalls in U.S. history, by the way) seemed to move the ball. Things didn't get out of hand with HVP for two reasons. First, because the salmonella lurking within the flavor enhancer is cooked either by the food processing company or at home by the consumer. Second, because a new reporting system that requires contamination to be reported within 24 hours was instituted last year.
The bill sitting in the Senate would do much more. Companies would be required to devise food safety plans. The law would give the Food and Drug Administration the power to mandate product recalls. More importantly, it would empower the secretary of health and human services to create a food-tracing system that would allow the FDA to find the source of contamination by tracing ingredients from "farm to fork."
That nice bit of alliteration is courtesy of Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), who has been pushing to get food traceability and mandatory recall for years. Perhaps the new team spirit in the Senate will finally turn the languishing food-safety bill into law.
| May 9, 2010; 7:44 AM ET
Categories: Capehart | Tags: Jonathan Capehart
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