House Advances Federal Food Safety Bill

June 18, 2009
WASHINGTON—The U.S. House Energy and Commerce committee has passed legislation that would give the FDA mandatory recall authority and allow the federal agency more access to company records.

The Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 would require all food processing facilities to implement a food safety plan. Inspections would occur every six to 18 months at “high-risk” facilities and every 18 months to three years for those determined to be low risk. Warehouses and distribution centers would be inspected at least once every three to four years.

If finalized, the legislation would require food companies to pay $1,000 per facility each year as a registration fee. The fee would generate approximately $189 million, which would be used to subsidize plant inspections and other safety measures.

Efforts to tighten food safety regulations have increased steadily in response to outbreaks connected to lettuce, peppers, spinach, peanuts and peanut butter.