This was an email I just received from Will Telligman, Legislative and Advocacy Manager for the Organic Trade Association. I spoke with him briefly this morning about what is going on with the Food Safety Bill and below is the message that he just sent me. It is copied and pasted below.
2:00PM EST – November 18, 2010
The Senate is moving forward on the food safety bill, S.510. There was concern that the bill would be stalled due to an amendment offered by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) to exclude small operations that engage in direct to consumer sales. An amendment to ban the use bisphenol A (BPA) was introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and was also seen as a potential roadblock for the bill.
A compromise was reached on Tester’s amendment that allows small facilities and farms engaged in direct to consumers sales to be exempt from requirements in the bill to create a HACCP plan, but they still have to prove that they have identified possible problems and have preventative measures in place, or be in compliance with state or local food safety laws. Foods regulated under state or local laws must be labeled as such with the contact information of the operation prominently displayed. Exempted facilities must sell their product directly to a consumer, restaurant or retailer within a 275 mile radius (the original amendment called for 500 miles) or must be within the same state, and may not have averaged more than $500,000 in sales annually over the past three years. The final amendment language also allows the FDA to end an exemption if an exempt facility or farm is linked to an outbreak.
Senator Feinstein withdrew her amendment regarding bisphenol A.
Yesterday’s cloture vote to limit floor debate on the bill to thirty hours passed 74-25 bypasses Senator Coburn’s filibuster threats. As an early indicator, this large margin makes it likely that the Senate will pass the motion to proceed and the final vote for passage. A vote could happen as early as today.