Quick action urged on food-safety bill

A broad coalition of business and consumer groups is requesting that the Senate schedule a vote on food-safety legislation "at the soonest possible date."

Twenty-two organizations representing the food industry, consumers and public health advocates wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) last week to urge action on the bill. On Monday five of the signing groups held a joint press conference at the Grocery Manufacturers Association to urge passage of "strong food-safety legislation [that] will reduce the risk of contamination and thereby better protect public health and safety." 

The stalled legislation would give the Food and Drug Administration power to recall tainted food, quarantine geographical areas and access food producers’ records. Similar legislation passed the House in July 2009.

The Senate Health Committee voted out the Senate version November, and unveiled a bipartisan manager's amendment at the beginning of the August recess. As a result, advocates were hoping for quick and easy passage of the legislation this month, but Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) is objecting on the grounds that the bill strengthens already inefficient government agencies and isn't paid for over the long term.