WASHINGTON — The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed Chairman Waxman’s and Chairman Emeritus Dingell’s "Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009" (H.R. 2749), relays the American Meat Institute. The overarching goal of the legislation is to increase F.D.A.’s food safety-related authority in light of the increased focus on recalls and foodborne illnesses attributable to F.D.A.-regulated products.

Although the majority of A.M.I. member companies are regulated by U.S.D.A.’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, H.R. 2749 presents concerns because of the effect it would have on F.D.A.-regulated products that are used as ingredients in some meat and poultry and because of the precedent the bill could establish with respect to the meat and poultry inspection statutes.

A.M.I. stated it worked closely with members of the Energy and Commerce Committee to ensure that the language addressing the modified atmosphere (low oxygen/CO) packaging was eliminated from the bill. Other provisions, such as those concerning the establishment of preventive controls, mandatory country-of-origin labeling and traceability, also were significantly improved.

A.M.I. still has concerns regarding providing F.D.A. with mandatory recall authority, the imposition of registration fees and a reference to B.P.A. in the legislation, among others. The bill will next move to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.