Saturday, May 21, 2011
By Paul Martin

By Sarah Foster
May 21, 2011

Senate Passes Stealth Food-Safety Crime Bill

WASHINGTON – Republican senators joined Democrats last month in passing an under-the-radar measure, authored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), to add more “teeth” to existing food law.

On April 14, as Congress prepared to adjourn for a two-week recess, the Senate quietly approved S. 216: The Food Safety Accountability Act of 2011, legislation that would expand the reach of the Food and Drug Administration over food shipped across state lines, by enabling federal prosecutors to seek steep fines and 10-year sentences for certain violations of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) that are currently simply misdemeanors.

Introduced Jan. 27, S. 216 is a replay from the previous congressional session, similar language having been included in the Food Safety Enhancement Act that the House passed in July 2009 but which failed to advance in the Senate.

Recognizing it as a threat to producers of natural foods and dietary supplements, health freedom advocates rallied public opposition and lobbied successfully to prevent its passage last year as a stand-alone bill (introduced by Leahy in September) and from being attached to the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that Congress passed in December.

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