The Food Safety and Modernization Act (SB 510) Bill, made a law by the US Senate recently has been praised by food activists as "the most important food-safety legislation in a generation." The last comprehensive refurbishment of the Food safety system happened in 1938.
Wide regulatory powers
The most important aspect of this bill is the wide increase in regulatory powers it gives the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to watch over farming and regarding the recall of food products. Many factors about food safety are related to the increasing dependence on globalization and industrialisation of food industries and the country's food supply. The United States imports nearly three quarters of its sea food and nearly one fifth of its total food needs.
Increased control over imports will mean the FDA will be empowered to check and set standards for food processing plants abroad as well as set minimum standards for food grown outside the country.
The organization will now also have the more authority about safety inspections especially on processing plants, farms and slaughterhouses. This is expected to lead to enhanced health for the consuming public since American health care costs mostly involve preventable disease and death from preventable diseases.
This won't affect adversely small scale food suppliers and growers. For small growers (with less than $500,000 in annual sales) who sell mostly in co ops this will not mean having to register with the FDA. Compliance with local food safety laws will be enough.
While critics have always pointed out that bill might lead to higher food costs, supporters point out that this will be offset by costs revolving the removal of contaminated or food that doesn't mean regulated standards. The recent recalls of eggs and butter are a case in point.
In 2009 the Peanut Corporation of America'scontaminated paste that had to be recalled also meant withdrawing from public consumption the various cookies and other eatables made by companies using the paste. Under the new law such manufacturing plants will have to conducts regular checks and tests to ensure that safe food production plans are effectively maintained.
Passed by avote of 73 to 25, this bill is also lauded for fostering a strong bipartisan effort between Republicans and Democrats to solve a problem that basically concerns everyone in the country.