Wisconsin’s two U.S. senators voted in favor of a bill aimed at making the nation’s food safer. The vote was 73-to-25 to pass the measure, a response to outbreaks of e-coli and salmonella. Wisconsin Democrats Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold voted yes. The bill gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration more authority to inspect food processing facilities. And for the first time, the FDA could force companies to recall risky food.
Also – thanks in part to Kohl – the package includes stricter standards on imported foods. Under Kohl’s proposal, FDA could refuse to allow imported food when foreign processors do not allow U.S. inspectors to inspect their facilities within 48 hours of making a request. The major goal is to prevent disease outbreaks from occurring.
The House passed a different version of the food safety package last year, and some lawmakers fear there won’t be enough time in the current lame-duck Congress to reach an agreement between the two chambers. But Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin said some House members have agreed to pass the Senate bill, and send it straight to the president for his signature. There were concerns that small businesses would have to close because of the legislation. The Senate agreed to grant exemptions from some of those smaller producers.