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

mplemented 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.

Commenting on 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 remains to be seen. "But it could have a significant impact," she said. "It's going to take a while to kick in, but it is important and overdue."

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.

"This law makes everyone responsible and accountable at each step in today's global food supply chain," FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said Tuesday.

One in six Americans gets sick from tainted food every year, and about 3,000 die from those illnesses, according to estimates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More information

For more on food safety, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

SOURCES: Patty Lovera, assistant director of Food and Water Watch, Washington, D.C.; Dec. 23, 2010, news release, Consumers Union; Associa
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