US food safety changes a step closer to reality

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 3rd August 2009

Sweeping reform in the food sector is edging closer after the House approved a Bill that will see widespread changes to the American food safety system.

The Obama administration has been pushing for the changes, which will require all manufacturing facilities to have a food safety plan, increase the number of inspections and see the food safety regulator in the country (FDA) given power to order food recalls. The FDA will also receive greater access to company records.

The Bill has been introduced on the back of a couple of alarming food safety breakdowns in the past eighteen months, including difficulty tracing a jalapeño salmonella outbreak and a major peanut butter scare that led to recalls around the world.

“This action represents a major step forward in modernising our food safety system and protecting Americans from food-borne illness,” President Obama said in a statement supporting the House vote.

The Bill was passed on Friday after initially being defeated on Thursday – when it required a two-thirds majority to pass.

Under the Bill – which still requires Senate approval – inspections will occur every six to 12 months at high-risk plants and every three years as lower-risk operations.