The final version of food security provisions in new bioterrorism legislation “represent a vast improvement over earlier versions,” according to John R. Cady, president and CEO of the National Food Processors Association (NFPA).  The US House of Representatives passed the final bill yesterday [Wednesday], and approval by the Senate is expected shortly.

“Make no mistake, this represents a vast expansion of regulatory authority for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA),” Cady stated, noting that the Bill’s conferees did well to prevent “the expansion of these powers far beyond the cause of dealing with potential terrorist threats against our food security.” 

The new provisions include granting administrative detention authority to FDA to hold foods they believe may pose a serious health threat; permissive debarment authority to prevent “bad actors” from attempting to ship adulterated foods that pose serious health risks into the US; limited new record keeping and access for the purpose of determining whether a food poses a serious health threat, and to trace the immediate source and distribution of suspect food; new establishment registration requirements that will be determined in an 18-month rulemaking process; and a new prior notice requirement for imported foods.

Cady added, however: “These new food authorities in this legislation are not perfect, and we remain concerned about how they will be implemented.

“The burden will be on FDA to make sure the implementation is on schedule and works well.”