View Full Version : Answers to questions about the food-safety bill 2010

12-02-2010, 10:03 PM
Answers to questions about the food-safety bill

Yahoo! Buzz (http://buzz.yahoo.com/buzz?publisherurn=usatoday&guid=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.usatoday.com%2Fyourlife%2Ffo od%2Fsafety%2F2010-12-03-foodsafetyQandA03_ST_N.htm%3Fcsp%3D34) The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010 is the first major overhaul of the Food and Drug Administration's food-safety provisions since 1938. Almost two years in the making, it was passed by the Senate on Tuesday by a vote of 73 to 25.

The legislation means rather than trying to figure out what foods made people sick, the FDA will seek to keep food from being contaminated in the first place, says Erik Olson, deputy director of the Pew Health Group.
The House of Representatives passed a slightly stronger version last year but had agreed in principle to accept the Senate's version, allowing it to be sent to President Obama for signing before the end of this session of Congress.

USA TODAY's Elizabeth Weise looks at what the bill means to consumers.

Q: What does it do?
A: Most important, it gives the FDA the right to order companies to recall tainted food and provides the first federal oversight of produce. Currently, the agency can only ask companies to undertake recalls. Produce safety is entirely voluntary.
The bill requires that the FDA do more frequent inspections of food manufacturers, that processors have food-safety plans, that the FDA create a pilot program to trace outbreaks quickly back to their source and that importers verify that incoming foods meets U.S. food-safety guidelines.

Q: What doesn't it do?
A: It didn't create a single food-safety agency that would combine the oversight functions of the Agriculture Department (meat and poultry) and the FDA (pretty much everything else.) Multiple groups over the years have called for this, given the patchwork nature of the U.S. food-safety system.

Q: What are the objections to the legislation?
A: Originally there was concern that it would be too expensive for small farmers, who couldn't afford to jump through the multiple food-safety hoops required of large manufacturers. However, a late amendment exempted producers who sell locally, less than $500,000 a year.

Q: Do experts think this will curb recalls and illnesses?
A: They certainly hope it will. Today, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://content.usatoday.com/topics/topic/Organizations/Government+Bodies/Centers+for+Disease+Control+and+Prevention) (CDC), food-related diseases affect tens of millions of people and kill thousands each year.
While the bill might add cents to the cost of food, proponents say it could save the U.S. medical system huge sums. The CDC estimates the food-related illness causes more than $9 billion in health care costs each year.
By some estimates, preventing a single fatal case of E. coli O157 infection would save $7 million.