The House of Representatives Thursday passed legislation to require more frequent inspections of processing plants and to give the government the authority to order food recalls.
The bill (H.R. 2749, Dingell-Waxman) passed on a 283 to 142 vote, after lawmakers from rural districts won concessions exempting farms from paying registration fees and curbing FDA’s access to farm records. The concessions would also limit FDA’s ability to set standards for production only on foods with a high risk of becoming contaminated. Passage in the House means the Senate likely will take the issue up this fall.
The measure would require FDA inspections every six to 12 months at “high-risk” food processing plants, including those that have had food safety issues previously or plants that handle easily spoiled food. Plants with lower risks would be inspected once every three years, and packaged food warehouses once every five years.
Additional provisions include stricter inspections on imported foods and a requirement that processing plants create safety plans to stop contamination issues before they arise. The FDA also would create a traceability system to make it easier to get to the source of food contamination.
FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg is expected to announce today new guidelines aimed at preventing leafy green, tomato, and melon contamination, as well.