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House approves bill on food safety

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Lyndsey Layton
Washington Post
Friday, July 31, 2009

The House approved the first major changes to food safety laws in 70 years yesterday, giving sweeping new authority to the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the way food is grown, harvested, and processed.

The action follows a wave of foodborne illnesses over the last two years, involving products as varied as spinach and cookie dough, which has shaken consumer confidence and made the issue a priority for congressional leaders and the White House. Food illnesses sicken one in four Americans and kill 5,000 each year, according to government statistics. Tainted food has cost the food industry billions of dollars in recalls, lost sales, and legal costs.

“Americans are dying because the Food and Drug Administration does not have authority to protect them, and American producers and agriculture are being hurt,” said Rep. John D. Dingell (D., Mich.), the bill’s author, who has been pushing food safety reform for more than 20 years. “This will fundamentally change the way in which we ensure the safety of our food supply.”

The measure (H.R. 2749) passed, 283-142. The Senate is expected to take up its version after the August recess. President Obama, who has voiced concerns about the safety of peanut butter consumed by his 8-year-old daughter, endorsed the House bill Wednesday.

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This article was posted: Friday, July 31, 2009 at 9:39 am





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