Today the Senate passed the first major legislation to strengthen food safety protections in 70 years. The bill passed with a 73-25 vote, but not without some major negotiations. Before it becomes law, the bill will need to be sent to the House for approval. The House already passed its own food safety bill in 2009, so it is unclear how the two bills will be compromised.
Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Workforce Committee said of the bill, "The Food Safety Modernization Act will bring America's food safety system into the 21st century."
To help pass the bill, senators negotated that smaller farms be excempt from some of the law's requirements. A smaller farm was defined in the legislation as a food producer who sells their goods within 275 miles of their facilities and earns less than $500,000 per year. Additionally, proposals to ban the use of BPA, a toxin found in many plastics used in food manufacturing, were thwarted.
Some proponents of food safety reform feel that the legislaton does not go far enough to protect consumers from the food industry; additionally, others feel that food safety legislation is pointless due to food safety law's tendency to lull consumers into thinking their food is safe, when in fact, it may not be. Whether or not the legislation will improve food safety in America is yet to be seen.