Sweeping Food Safety Bill Passes Senate, Crapo and Risch Vote No


Idaho's U.S. senators voted against a bill Tuesday that would see sweeping changes to the food industry. The $1.4 billion food-safety package passed 73-25.

The bill, as written, would allow the Food and Drug Administration to order recalls of tainted foods. Currently, the agency can only negotiate with businesses to voluntarily recall the foods. The measure also requires food processors and manufactures to create detailed food safety plans. Supporters said passage was critical in the wake of widespread E. coli and salmonella outbreaks in peanuts, eggs and produce.

Opposition came from advocates of locally produced food and operators of small farms, who said the new requirements could bankrupt some small businesses. Senators eventually agreed to exempt some of those operations from costly food safety plans required of bigger companies.

Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch joined 23 other Republicans in voting no.

Though precious days remain before the end of the 2010 session, the bill's sponsors said they had an agreement with some members in the U.S. House to pass the Senate bill, which would send the legislation straight to President Barack Obama's desk.