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U.S. Food-Safety Laws Overhauled
Date:12/22/2010

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 22 (HealthDay News) -- President Barack Obama is expected to sign, perhaps as early as Wednesday, 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, passed by the House of Representatives Tuesday in a 215-144 vote, 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.

Obama has said he would sign the bill, previously approved by the Senate, into law.

Food-safety advocates hailed the bipartisan move.

"This is a big victory for consumers that finally brings food-safety laws into the 21st century," Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives at Consumers Union, said Wednesday in a news release. "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. This win is for them and all Americans."

Shelley A. Hearne, managing director of the Pew Health Group, applauded Congress "for sending a message that Americans should be able to trust that the food they eat and feed their families is safe."

The historic 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, chicken 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 plans and tell the FDA how they will be i
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