SHAHEEN: NEW FOOD SAFETY BILL WILL PROTECT AMERICANS FROM ILLNESS

Legislation contains key exemptions for small farms Shaheen fought for

November 30, 2010

(Washington, DC) - U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen today announced passage of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act, which will strengthen the nation's food safety system and help protect Americans from food-borne illnesses.  Shaheen was instrumental in ensuring the final version of the bipartisan legislation afforded New Hampshire's small farmers greater flexibility in complying with it.                           

"The measures set forth in the Food Safety bill will safeguard one of America's most precious assets-the health and safety of its citizens," said Shaheen.  "At the same time, the legislation is tailored to fit the needs of the small farms and food processing facilities that are so important to our state."

With more than 76 million Americans suffering from preventable food-borne illnesses each year, the bill seeks to establish a more proactive food safety system in the United States.   Under its requirements, the FDA will conduct an increased number of inspections of food facilities, farms will follow new produce safety standards, importers will verify the safety of their imported foods, and food facilities will develop hazard analysis plans.  Additionally, the bill gives the FDA mandatory recall authority, calls for the agency to develop an enhanced food safety surveillance system in conjunction with state and local stakeholders, and provides it with the ability to suspend a faulty food facility's registration.

In collaboration with leaders of the New Hampshire agriculture community and Senators from other small farm states, Shaheen worked to modify the legislation so that it did not burden small farmers.   As a result, small farms and food processing facilities will not be subject to all the bill's regulations.  For example, if a farm sells the majority of its product directly to consumers, restaurants, and retailers within the same state, or within 275 miles, and has sales of less than $500,000 per year, it will not be regulated by the new Produce Safety Standards but will instead continue to be responsible for conforming to state standards.  

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