June 19, 2009
The U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee approved an amendment to the Food Safety and Enhancement Act of 2009 (H.R. 2749) that exempts meat, poultry, eggs and the farms and facilities that produce and process them from a provision that would have expanded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) authority. The amendment exempts farms, foods and facilities regulated by the secretary of agriculture under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act or the Egg Products Inspection Act. The amendment was accepted after days of negotiation with the livestock and poultry industries including the American Sheep Industry Association.
The amendment would have allowed the FDA to conduct on-farm inspections, quarantine geographic areas over food safety problems, create a tracing system for all food and require additional records to be kept. The U.S. Department of Agriculture already has the authority to conduct many of these oversight activities.
H.R. 2749, which the energy committee approved by voice vote, must still be considered by the full House. This action is likely to take place prior to the August recess.
There will continue to be negotiations on this legislation with affected industries prior to the bill coming to the floor. It is anticipated that there will be a manager's amendment to the legislation when it is considered by the full House.
The Senate has differing comprehensive food safety legislation, but action has not yet begun.