After taking more twists and turns than a 40 foot tapeworm, the Food Safety Modernization Act finally went back to the U.S. House of Representatives where it passed the Senate version of the bill by a vote of 215 to 144. The House vote ends nearly a month of legislative limbo after the Senate originally passed the controversial bill on November 30th by a wide bipartisan margin of 73 to 25, but a procedural error in the Senate version caused the bill's fate to hang uncertainly between Big Ag, Tea Party and other efforts to kill it.
Now the bill will head to President Obama's desk where it joins a long line of legislation waiting to become law at the end of the lame duck 111th Congress.
Despite two years of heated debated in the sustainable and local food community, the food safety bill will promises to increase the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) ability to prevent outbreaks of foodborne illnesses by giving the agency mandatory recall authority
Under the legislation, food manufacturers will be required to examine their processing systems to identify possible ways that food products can become contaminated and to develop detailed plans to keep that from happening. Companies must share those plans with the F.D.A., and provide the agency with records, including product test results, showing how effectively they carry them out.