House passes food safety bill to Obama

President expected to sign S.510 into law, giving the FDA greater authority to test and recall food and beverage products that it suspects are contaminated.

For many, it’s a holiday miracle. After being pronounced dead more than once, the Food Safety Modernization Act (S.510)—which provides sweeping reform to the United States’ food system—finally made its way through the not-so-lame “lame duck” Congress and is headed for the President, who is poised to sign the landmark bill.

After being resurrected by the Senate on Dec. 19, S.510 passed the House of Representatives today by a vote of 215 to 144, with 10 Republicans voting yes.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), and a key supporter of the food safety bill, issued the following statement after the Senate passed S.510.

"It has been almost a century since our food safety system was updated—and over a year since this bill first started to move in Congress. Tonight, we achieved a critical victory, bringing this bill one step closer to the finish line.  I look forward to standing with the President as he signs this important measure into law, and in so doing, giving Americans one of the best holiday gifts they can receive this year -- the assurance that the foods they are eating are safer."

Other supporters of the Food Safety Modernization Act include the Organic Trade Association, the Natural Products Association, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, Grocery Manufacturers of America, the Food Marketing Institute, and healthy food advocates Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser (who jointly penned a New York Times editorial in support of the bill on Nov. 28).

Not everyone is celebrating S.510’s survival, however, including Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin. Beck and Palin were among the most vocal and histrionic opponents of the food safety bill.

If enacted, the food safety bill—which comes with a $1.4 billion price tag—would give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) much greater authority to test and recall food and beverage products that it suspects are contaminated.

Still, S.510 might not be enough to halt the latest reported threat to the U.S. food system: Al Qadea terrorists. According to CBS News, the Department of Homeland Security has uncovered a new credible threat showing that Al Qaeda is plotting to sneak ricin and cyanide into U.S. buffets and salad bars.

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