WASHINGTON — With the lame-duck session winding down, the House of
Representatives passed food-safety legislation Dec. 8 attached to a must-
pass federal government spending bill.
House Democrats had been scrambling to find a way to pass food-safety
legislation to fix a procedural error discovered after the Nov. 30 Senate
passing of S. 510, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration Food Safety
Modernization Act. The bill must now return to the Senate for another vote.
But by attaching it to a $1 trillion government spending bill for fiscal 2011,
House Democrats upped the chances the bill may pass before Congress
The continuing resolution did not pass by a 212-206 vote, however, without
an attempt by some members to steer the bill to conference committee in an
attempt to strip a controversial amendment that would allow small producers
to be exempt from federal food-safety requirements.
Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) called on members on the House floor to oppose the
bill, saying there was still time to resolve differences in conference
"For all of us who have worked long and hard to pass food-safety reform, this
is a bittersweet moment, with a job only partially done," Robert Guenther, the
United Fresh Produce Association's senior vice president, said in a Dec. 8
statement after the evening vote.
Mr. Guenther said that he feared the amendment that exempts small
producers and processors “will come back to haunt the Congress, public
health agencies, consumers and even those who thought they would benefit
from food-safety exemptions.”
He added, “As we look ahead, we will continue to voice our strong support for
uniform, risk-based food-safety standards, whether in the remaining days of
this Congress or in the new Congress convening in January.”