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Congress may have come out of the August recess with its attention riveted to the healthcare reform debate, but food safety issues are quietly moving through Capitol Hill.

Food safety still a priority in DC  

Both Republicans and Democrats credit the work of House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Emeritus Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) for winning House approval of a measure to overhaul the Food and Drug Administration and give it more authority.

“We applaud the House for its vision and leadership in tackling this tough issue and urge the Senate to swiftly follow suit and pass its food safety bill as quickly as possible,” said Pamela Bailey, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

The Senate counterpart to the House bill, S.510, has also drawn bipartisan support. The House-passed bill gives FDA broad authority to increase food safety regulation and levies an annual fee on food processors to beef up the FDA budget.

New food safety portal launched   

FDA has introduced its Reportable Food Registry and is requiring food industry officials to use it to alert the agency when they find contamination in products that could sicken or kill people or animals. The requirement, a result of legislation, took effect on with the launch of the portal on September 8. 

Facilities that manufacture, process or hold food for consumption in the United States now must tell the FDA within 24 hours if they find a reasonable probability that an article of food will cause severe health problems or death to a person or an animal. The reporting requirement applies to all foods and animal feed regulated by the FDA, except infant formula and dietary supplements, which are covered by regulations.

Climate change bill under scrutiny   

Major business groups are lining up against the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454), also known as the Waxman-Markey climate change bill, as the Senate takes up the measure this month. The National Association of Manufacturers is spearheading the campaign.

Manufacturers say the measure would have a devastating impact on the economy by making all goods more expensive.

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