Food Safety Bill Heads Back To House Following Legislative Gaffe

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Food safety bill heads back to House following legislative gaffeThe Senate approved a bill on Nov. 30 that would introduce enhanced governmental oversight of the nation's food producers. One day later, it was revealed that Senate Democrats may have violated a constitutional provision while crafting the bill, which has resulted in the legislation heading back to the House of Representatives.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was passed by a Senate vote of 73-25, would expand the authority of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue direct recalls of foods that are suspected of being tainted. However, Senate Democrats added language to the bill that calls for fees on importers, farmers and processors whose food is recalled, according to The Washington Post.

According to constitutional law, all new taxes must originate in the House. If the House Ways and Means Committee decides the fees are equivalent to taxes, the Senate vote essentially would be nullified, according to the news provider.

During the Nov. 30 Senate vote, all of the nay votes were cast by Republicans, many of whom believe that the bill will place a burden on small farmers and producers who are not well equipped to comply with the new regulations. Opponents of FSMA are concerned that it may raise food prices and add to the national deficit, as well as give the Federal government too much control over food manufacturers. 

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), a trade association that represents dietary supplement manufacturers and ingredient suppliers, praised the Senate's decision.

"It is imperative that FDA has the tools it needs to help protect our nation's food supply, including dietary supplements," CRN president and CEO Steve Mister said in a statement. "This bill is critical."

The Alliance for Natural Health (ANH), a nonprofit dedicated to promoting sustainable health and freedom of choice in healthcare through good science and good laws, is opposed to the legislation.

"This bill is a misguided attempt to ensure the safety of our food and supplements," according to a post on the ANH Website. "It is designed to give the FDA more power to threaten, silence and penalize small natural food and supplement makers and distributors."

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