In an unanticipated turn of events, the Senate managed to pass the Food Safety and Modernization Act on Sunday with bipartisan support. The bill puts stricter safety standards on imported food, and requires larger producers to follow tougher rules. It also introduces provisions designed to prevent outbreaks of diseases like E.coli and salmonella.
"Families in Nevada and across America should never have to worry about whether the food they put on their table is safe," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement. "Tonight we unanimously passed a measure to improve on our current food safety system by giving the FDA the resources it needs to keep up with advances in food production and marketing, without unduly burdening farmers and food producers."
The battle to get this legislation passed has been a long, frustrating, and sometimes hamfisted one. As Mother Jones' Stephanie Mencimer wrote last week, Congress had originally passed the bill earlier this month. But the next day, it turned out that senators had accidentally included tax provisions in the bill, which must originate in the House. That rendered the measure unconstitutional. And an attempt to include it as part of the Senate omnibus spending bill died last week along with the rest of the bill $1.1 trillion, earmark-loaded wish list.
Food saftey advocates and Hillwatchers were all-but-certain that the bill's passage was a lost cause. Its fate now rests in the hands of the House, where it will return this week.