The Senate today approved the Food Safety Modernization Act, a bill that expands the Food and Drug Administration’s ability to regulate the quality of food and expand the agency’s powers to inspect food production facilities.
Among the provisions within the $1.4 billion measure, the bill mandates that the FDA inspect high-risk food facilities once every three years and gives the government a new power to force companies to conduct a recall if products are determined to be unsafe.
The bill was passed by a vote of 73-25 with an amendment that provides an exemption for small farms and facilities that earn less than $500,000 per year.
The House passed a version of the bill over the summer, but the Senate waited until now to address the bill, which is backed by large food makers, corporate farms and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s widely supported by both the business sector and the consumer groups,” said Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin. “This is the product of a long effort to reach the compromises needed to get good legislation through.”
The Senate also shot down two amendments submitted by Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, which would have imposed a three-year ban on certain earmarks and scrapped the Food Safety Bill that ultimately passed with a different measure that includes less regulation.
“It has fatal flaws,” Coburn said of the bill on the Senate floor before the vote. “The problem with food safety is that the agencies don’t do what their supposed to be doing now. They don’t need more regulations, they need less.”