Senate passes food safety bill

With E. coli and salmonella outbreaks still a recent memory, the Senate Tuesday morning passed its version of the food safety bill, 73-25.

The House version of the bill, passed in July 2009, requires food producers to pay a user fee to the Food and Drug Administration, similar to those paid by the drug and device industries. The fee would fund beefed-up examinations of the nation's food supply. But the Senate version leaves FDA funding for expanded investigations up to appropriators, and getting extra funds could be an uphill battle in a deficit-concerned and divided Congress.

The Senate's bill also requires less frequent inspections of high- and low-risk facilities than the House version, and includes compromise language from Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., exempting certain small farmers from some regulations.

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