Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Food safety up for vote

According to Sally Schuff of Feedstuffs, the weekly newspaper of agribusiness, a bill that would phase out the non-therapeutic use of seven antibiotics will not be included on the House food safety reform bill, which went to the floor for a vote this morning. Despite rumors the measure could be included, the controversial antibiotics legislation, sponsored by House Rules Committee Chairman Louise Slaughter (D., N.Y.) was not folded into the food safety bill as negotiators strove to iron out other differences so the bill could move before the August recess.

H.R. 2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, a bill for comprehensive reforms o f the Food and Drug Administration’s food safety authorities, was scheduled for a floor vote this morning under the "suspension calendar," which means no amendments will be added and a supermajority vote is required – and believed to be attainable.

The bill was heralded as a model of bipartisan consensus when it was advanced by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on a voice vote earlier this summer. Negotiations on key agricultural issues, led by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, continued to iron out other details late yesterday and final bill language was pending. Informed sources say the bill's exemption for livestock operations from new on-farm inspection authority under FDA remain in the bill. New stricter federal standards sought by the fresh produce industry are believed to be included.

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