FMI Laments Failed Food Safety Enhancement Act Passage

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FMI Laments Failed Food Safety Enhancement Act Passage

Despite wide industry support, the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 -- the comprehensive bipartisan bill that would modernize the nation’s food safety system -- failed to reach the supermajority needed for passage in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, in the wake of criticism that it was being pushed through too quickly. The bill made it to the floor under a suspension vote, which means limited debate and no amendments, but requires a two-thirds majority for passage.

With 280 votes cast in support of the bill and 150 against it, the two-thirds supermajority of 287 votes needed to pass the bill wasn’t reached under a suspension of rules that capped the floor debate to 40 minutes.

FMI’s president and CEO, Leslie Sarasin, said that while the majority of the House of Representatives voted in favor of the bill, “[w]e are disappointed the legislation did not pass as a result of the House rules process in place for this particular vote, which required approval by two-thirds of those voting. We would urge the House of Representatives to consider the bill under regular order, which requires a simple majority.”

Noting that the bill endows the Food and Drug Administration with important new authority such as mandatory recall authority that Sarasin said would improve its ability to safeguard the food supply, FMI supports “the measure’s recognition of fully accredited third-party food safety certification programs and the need to develop traceability initiatives that build on industry efforts already underway.”

It was unclear at presstime on Wednesday what the next step would be, although the House will vote again Thursday under rules requiring a simple majority for approval, according to a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.