After years of just listening those injured and the survivors of those killed by outbreaks of food-borne illnesses in the United States, the House Health Subcommittee finally took some action today.
On the back of deal that halves the amount of a new registration fee for food producing facilities, the Subcommittee was able to send its food safety reform bill to the full House Energy & Commerce Committee on a unanimous bipartisan voice vote.
Chairman Henry Waxman, D-CA, says the full committee will likely vote the measure out to the House floor next Wednesday.
Moving the bill came during its formal markup today after an agreement was reached to set registration fees for food-making facilities at $500 per year, down from the original $1,000 sought by Committee leaders. The deal also caps the total amount any one company would have to pay for annual registrations at $175,000.
That concession brought Subcommittee Republicans on board and ended any effective opposition to the bill by food industry. The fees help pay for stepped up inspections by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates 80 percent of the nation’s food supply.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) is responsible for regulating the other 20 percent—meat, poultry and eggs. FSIS has traditionally had more money and legal authority than FDA has for its responsibilities.
According to Philip Brasher of the Des Moines Register, 345 facilities in Iowa will have to pay the new fees. “In Iowa, the rules would affect everyone from mom-and-pop businesses to huge corn mills and cereal operations owned by multinational firms such as Cargill and General Mills,” Brasher reports.
Food safety legislation has also been introduced in the Senate, but the House is clearly moving faster. See more in the Des Moines Register here, and/or the Wall Street Journal here.