Spurred by recent E. coli and salmonella outbreaks, the food-safety bill would hand the Food and Drug Administration more power to recall tainted products, strengthen inspections of vegetable and meat processors, and demand that producers follow tougher standards for keeping food safe.
While some say that the requirements should apply to everyone who grows food for public consumption, the Senate last week amended the bill to exempt farms making less than $500,000 a year. With the so-called Tester amendment in place, the bill is likely to pass in the Senate. But it could get hung up in the new Republican-controlled House.
"This bill would for the first time give the agency the tools to prevent contaminated food from entering the marketplace instead of scrambling to react in the aftermath of major outbreaks," writes Carol Tucker-Foreman in south Florida's Sun-Sentinel newspaper.
What are the strongest arguments for the bill?
Many Americans believe inspection reform is needed to protect the national food supply. "Senators often talk about the importance of addressing so-called 'kitchen table' issues – the practical, everyday concerns of working Americans," Sen. Tom Harkin (D) of Iowa, a co-sponsor, has said. "Well, food safety is literally a 'kitchen table' issue."