Senators Spar Over Food Safety Bill

WASHINGTON — Several retailers along with a range of business and consumer groups met with members of Congress last week in a last-ditch effort to prod the Senate to pass a food-safety bill that has been languishing for months. Senate leaders were wrangling over the legislation last week, which passed the House last year. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said earlier this month that the legislation would likely

WASHINGTON — Several retailers — along with a range of business and consumer groups — met with members of Congress last week in a last-ditch effort to prod the Senate to pass a food-safety bill that has been languishing for months.

Senate leaders were wrangling over the legislation last week, which passed the House last year. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said earlier this month that the legislation would likely not come up for a vote in the Senate before the November elections because of objections by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., about funding the bill and other issues, including an amendment restricting the use of Bisphenol-A in food packaging, sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Late last week Reid and Coburn appeared closer to a compromise, opening the possibility that the measure could go to the Senate floor this week.

The Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act would provide additional resources for the FDA to conduct inspections and expand its powers to oversee food safety, including an ability to order recalls.

“[We] believe this bipartisan legislation should be passed by the Senate without further delay,” said Jennifer Hatcher, senior vice president of government and public affairs, Food Marketing Institute, Arlington, Va. “This is a balanced bill focused on prevention. America's consumers are counting on a public-private partnership to protect the safety of our food supply.”