A procedural problem is threatening to derail the food safety bill passed by the senate on Tuesday (30 November), according to reports.

The bill, which will give the Food and Drug Administration more authority to increase inspections of food processing facilities and force companies to recall tainted food, could violate a constitutional provision that calls for any new taxes to originate in the House rather than in the Senate, the Washington Post reported.

The House passed a more stringent version of the law over a year ago, and before House leaders knew about the issue, they indicated the House would accept the Senate version and President Barack Obama has said he would sign the bill into law.

One section of the bill would impose fees on importers, and on farmers and food processors whose food is recalled because of contamination. If it is determined that those fees amount to taxes, it would essentially nullify the vote by the Senate.

According to the reports, House leaders met yesterday (1 December) seeking a way to save the bill, but added that any hopes to get it back on track would rely on the Senate taking another vote on the bill.