The National Restaurant Association has applauded Tuesday’s Senate passage of S. 510, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act.

The act, passed by a vote of 73 to 25, will enable the FDA to order recalls of tainted foods, increase inspections of domestic and foreign food facilities, and requires the administration to draft new rules for the growers and processors of high-risk fruits and vegetables.

Scott DeFife, executive vice president of Policy and Government Affairs, said the NRA applauds the bill’s passage because of its enhancement to the food safety system.

"We encourage the House of Representatives to take quick action to pass the bill before the end of the year,” he said. "The restaurant industry understands the critical importance of a first-class food safety system. Restaurants have high expectations and stringent controls to ensure the products they purchase are safe. The industry has sought improvements to our food safety system while not unnecessarily burdening small businesses. We believe this legislation represents a fair balance of these needs, and that its comprehensive reforms and emphasis on prevention will improve the safety of the food purchased by restaurant operators.”

However, DeFife expressed regret in regard to the defeat of several amendments to the bill that would have fully repealed 1099 reporting requirements that include all business transactions with a vendor valued at more than $600.

"This creates a significant burden on small businesses at a time when many are attempting to survive under the current weak economy,” he said. “We urge Congress to continue to work towards repealing these requirements, as it is clear that repeal has bipartisan support and it seems the only roadblock is that lawmakers cannot agree on how best to pay for it."

Moving forward, the measurement must be reconciled with a version passed in the House last July and win approval from the full chamber in its modified form before being signed by President Obama.

In July 2009, the White House outlined a food safety initiative brought about by recent salmonella outbreaks tied to spinach, eggs and peppers. The Food Safety Working Group was created by Obama in March 2009 to advise the administration on how to upgrade the food safety system for the 21st century.

The group’s findings were presented by Vice President Joe Biden, Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

The House voted July 30 to pass H.R. 2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009. The act’s key provisions included mandates regarding registration, recalls and imports as well as food safety inspections, best practices and traceability.

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