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Obama to Sign Bill to Improve U.S. Food Safety
Date:1/4/2011

TUESDAY, Jan. 4 (HealthDay News) -- President Barack Obama was expected to sign Tuesday sweeping new legislation that gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration unprecedented powers to keep the nation's food supply safe.

The Food Safety Modernization Act, first passed by the Senate and then the House of Representatives last month, represents the first significant strengthening of the nation's food safety laws since the 1930s, and follows a string of outbreaks of food-borne illnesses stemming from tainted eggs, peanuts, spinach and other leafy greens.

"The Food Safety Modernization Act is the most significant food safety law of the last 100 years," Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said during a Monday afternoon press conference.

"It will bring our food safety system into the 21st century, improving health, saving lives and helping Americans feel confident that when they sit down at their dinner table they won't end up in the hospital," she said.

Added Food and Drug Commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg: "In passing the Food Safety Modernization Act, Congress has addressed a significant public health problem facing our nation today -- food-borne illness. This law puts necessary and renewed emphasis on prevention, and makes prevention the responsibility of every participant in the food supply chain -- from farm to table."

The overhaul gives the FDA authority to protect the food supply, rather than simply react to breakdowns in the supply chain, as the agency has done in the past. It will affect all whole and processed foods, with the exception of meat, poultry and eggs, according to the Associated Press.

Under the auspices of the $1.4 billion bill, the government will be able to inspect processing plants, order recalls and set stricter standards for imported foods. Larger farms and food manufacturers will have to prepare detailed food-safety pla
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