Houses Passes Sweeping Food Safety Bill
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2009 1:20 AM CDT
The bill's author, Democratic Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, has fought for better food safety standards for over 20 years.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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(Newser) – The FDA would gain broad new powers to oversee food safety under a far-reaching bill passed by the House yesterday, the Washington Post reports. The measure—representing the first major changes to food safety laws since the 1930s—would give the agency vastly increased oversight of the nation's food chain from field to store, and would boost the number of food-related inspections. Support for the bill was sparked by a string of serious food-borne illnesses the last three years.

An annual $500 fee from food producers and importers would help fund the beefed-up FDA. The bill would "fundamentally change the way in which we ensure the safety of our food supply," said legislation author Democratic Rep. John Dingell. The bill's opponents, however, charge that it would burden food producers with extra paperwork and costs without necessarily improving safety. The Senate takes up its version of the bill later this year.