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

ns and tell the FDA how they will be implemented at different stages of production.

The bill exempts small farmers and food processors, and growers who sell directly to the public at farm stands, because of concerns that smaller food suppliers can't afford the testing and record-keeping that the bill requires.

Other highlights of the bill:

  • The FDA must gradually implement more frequent inspections in the United States and overseas. Eventually, high-risk facilities will be inspected every three years.
  • The FDA will be able to order -- rather than simply request -- food recalls when it is evident that contaminated food poses a health hazard.
  • The law enables the agency to set national standards for growing and harvesting produce.

But the money to implement the new legislation isn't guaranteed. Some conservative lawmakers have said they're concerned about the cost at a time when cutting federal spending is becoming an increasing priority. Supporters of the new law, which has bipartisan backing, said they intend to push Congress for full funding, the AP reported.

Food-safety advocates hailed the move when the bill passed the House of Representatives last month.

"This win is a powerful testament to the people across the country who came to Washington to tell their lawmakers how contaminated food had killed their loved ones or left them horribly sick," said Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives at Consumers Union. "This win is for them and all Americans."

Commenting last month on House passage of the bill, Patty Lovera, assistant director for Food & Water Watch, said, "We look at it as an important first step."

Noting that implementation of important provisions will happen over the next several years and require increased funding for the FDA, Lovera said, "That's a whole other set of work we have to do."

As for the bill's effect on food safety, Lovera said that rema
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