By Ricardo Carvajal –
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, which would substantially strengthen FDA’s regulatory authority over foods. The bill would grant FDA mandatory recall authority, expanded access to records, stronger seizure and administrative detention authorities, and authority to quarantine foods. In addition, the bill would prohibit delaying, limiting, or refusing inspection, authorize the issuance of subpoenas, provide whistleblower protection, and provide for enhanced criminal and civil penalties for certain prohibited acts with respect to foods. The bill would also authorize FDA to establish science-based performance standards for classes of food, safety standards for fresh produce, a tracing system for domestic and imported food, a requirement for third party certification of imports, and safety and security guidelines for food imports. Finally, the bill would require FDA to adopt a risk-based food facility inspection schedule.
In addition to complying with requirements imposed by FDA pursuant to the authorities summarized above, producers would be obliged to register their facilities annually and pay fees, conduct a hazard analysis and implement risk-based preventive controls, and develop and implement a written food safety plan. Importers would be required to use only accredited testing laboratories and would be required to register and pay fees annually.
The text of the bill (H.R. 2749) is available here. The Senate is not expected to take up similar legislation until it has addressed health care reform.