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Food Safety Enhancement Act Passes, Food and Beverage Providers Beware
For over a year, legislators have been aiming to give more power to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - since 2009 to be exact. After back and forth concessions between the House and Senate, a final food safety bill has passed the House and is expected to reach President Obama's desk for signing.
The bill, called the Food Safety Enhancement Act (S 510), will essentially focus on food-bourne-illness prevention rather than food-bourne illness reaction. In the wake of over 80 recalled food products within the past year that caused almost 2,000 people to get sick, safety advocates pushed Congress to pass a bill aimed at safeguarding the nation's food supply.
Important Components of the New Bill
Restaurants, food chains, beverage and food servicers, and manufacturers should take note of the important new provisions of the Food Safety Enhancement Act:
- The law will require food makers examine their manufacturing procedures and develop detailed plans that will keep food products from becoming contaminated. The bill requires manufacturers to disclose these plans with the FDA. However, this requirement will not go take effect for a year and a half.
- The law will require the FDA to more regularly inspect food servicers located in the U.S. and abroad that fall under the act.
- The law will grant the FDA the authority to order food recalls. (Under the current law, the FDA is only authorized to request a food product recall.)
Good News for Some Small Business Owners
Fortunately, the law doesn't apply to all business owners. Small food processors and farmers are exempt under the law due to legislative reasoning that it would be too expensive and burdensome for these businesses.
The law also does not apply to meat and poultry producers. Manufacturers processing these products are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Restaurants and service providers should also note that enforcing this new law is contingent on the resources available. Additional inspectors and increased staff will be needed to carry out the provisions of the bill. Ultimately, the agency's ability to carry out and enforce the law will depend on how much money it has available to pay inspectors and maintain or increase its staff.