Sen. Dick Durbin has said S. 510 would bring needed reforms to FDA regulation of the U.S. food industry.

Senate Passes Food Safety Reform Bill

The U.S. Senate voted 73-25 on Tuesday to pass S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois. It now goes to the U.S. House of Representatives.

S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act introduced by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., finally passed the U.S. Senate on Tuesday by a 73-25 vote. Dunbin's bill had been approved by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee almost a year ago and was passed after several procedural votes in the past two weeks.

"Today's vote will finally give the FDA the tools it needs to help ensure that the food on dinner tables and store shelves is safe," Durbin said after the bill passed. "This bill will have a dramatic impact on the way the FDA operates, providing it with more resources for inspection, mandatory recall authority, and the technology to trace an outbreak back to its source. I am proud of the work we have done, but our vigilance must continue." He has called S. 510 "a starting point to bring our food safety laws into the 21st century" and described it as "the first step towards a food safety system that is transparent, risk and science-based, accountable to consumers, and dedicated to the public health goal of preventing foodborne illnesses."

The bill now goes before the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration. It would increase inspections of food facilities, require annual inspections of high-risk facilities, give FDA new authority to order recalls, and make it easier for the agency to shut down tainted facilities and access facilities' records, according to Durbin. He cited recent salmonella outbreaks involving peanuts and other recalls when he introduced the bill in 2009.

"Americans spend more than $1 trillion on food each year. These outbreaks have seriously compromised the public’s faith in the ability of companies or the government to make sure their food is safe. Time is of the essence. Congress must act quickly to make real improvements so that families, businesses, and communities have confidence in what they sell and what they eat," Durbin wrote in a commentary on the bill posted by The Hill, a Capitol Hill online newspaper.

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