Today, the Senate passed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) by a vote of 73 to 25. S. 510 will now move to the House of Representatives for consideration. Robert Guenther, United Fresh senior vice president of public policy, made the following statement after the vote:
“We are disappointed that the Senate continues to ignore the egregious loopholes allowed in this legislation that will erode consumer confidence in our nation’s food safety system. Now, when going to a supermarket, restaurant, farmers market or roadside stand, consumers will be faced with the question of whether the fruits and vegetables offered for sale adhere to basic food safety standards or not. Unfortunately, instead of adhering to a science- and risk-based approach that was consistently the foundation of the underlying bill, the Senate has chosen to include a provision that will exempt certain segments of the food industry based on the size of operation, geographic location and customer base. This provision creates a gaping hole in the ability of consumers to trust the safety of all foods in the commercial marketplace.
“As S. 510 moves to the House of Representatives, we strongly encourage the House leadership to request a conference to reconcile differences between the House-passed food safety legislation and the flawed Senate bill. The House bill makes no arbitrary exemptions from basic food safety standards. This principle is at risk of being discarded for temporary convenience to pass a bill, but it is a fundamental mistake that will come back to haunt consumers, the food industry and even those producers who think they are escaping from food safety requirements.
“The House should give due diligence to conference these bills, not accept a flawed agreement that flies in the face of sound science.”