About a month and a half ago, I provided some food for thought in which I discussed the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee’s legislation for implementing a more regulated food safety system. At the end of July, the House passed The Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 with a vote of 283 to 142. The bill was declined its first time around, in which a two-thirds majority was needed for its passage. A day later, a second vote took place and the bill was accepted by a required simple majority.

The individuals who opposed the bill were concerned with some of the burdens it would place on small farmers and food production facilities. Before the second vote was taken, changes were made to the bill that would not require farmers to pay the $500 annual registration fee. The FDA will also have limited access to farm records. Another modification of the bill was made so that the FDA will only set production standards for those foods that are at a high risk of being contaminated, such as vegetables. (For more details, check out The New York Times)

The legislation would also require imported foods to meet the same standards as domestic foods. The FDA’s greatest responsibility established through this legislation is to prevent the outbreak of food-borne illnesses. It is very difficult to determine the source of contamination and trace a contaminated food’s path through the supply chain. The Washington Post says that the responsibility of establishing a method or technology tool that the FDA can use to trace food will be handed to the secretary of Health and Human Services.

An issue that may arise further down the road is related to the financing of this bill. About forty percent of the costs associated with the FDA’s new responsibilities will be covered by the annual registration fees paid by food production facilities. In five years, the annual fees will produce about $1.4 billion. This is not nearly enough to cover all the FDA's necessary functions.

It is now the Senate’s turn to develop a piece of legislation, which is expected to happen sometime in the fall. In the meantime, the FDA should look into how they will cover the other sixty percent of the costs it will incur with its new potential responsibilities. Facilities should also begin to implement a risk management process if they have not already done so. Identifying potential risks is the first step, and then controls should be established, monitored, and continuously tested to ensure their effectiveness.
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Kathleen Jordan

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  1. This is about Healthcare Bill to be passed by both – House and the Senate. Obama is pushing towards passing a Health Care bill. President says that about 50 million people are without health care. It might be true, but out of those 50 million, how many are ill-legal immigrants? How many are coming to this country on a tourist visas and fell sick?

    Family means – Spouse, Children and You. You take care of your children when you are working. So when you become older why not your children can insure you through their employer’s insurance policy? This way there won’t be many people without health insurance.

  2. Sodexo is keeping a close eye on this legislation as well. Check it out at http://tinyurl.com/mndped