House passes food-safety bill

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a sweeping food-safety reform bill that will give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) more power over inspection, enforcement and recalls.

The Food Safety Enhancement Act passed the House this summer by a vote of 283 to 182. President Barack Obama has already promised to sign the legislation if and when it’s passed by the Senate, which probably will consider it this fall. Obama called the bill “a major step forward in modernizing our food safety system.”

The act will require more frequent inspections of food plants, as often as every six to 12 months for at-risk locations. (Currently, inspections are held as infrequently as every five years.) It requires electronic record-keeping, with records provided to the FDA. It also requires food manufacturers to devise and implement customized HACCP (Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points) plans to identify and mitigate safety risks. The bill also gives FDA the authority to mandate recalls in certain situations, and provides tougher penalties for negligence.

Some industry groups, notably the United Fresh Produce Association, have applauded the bill, but some farmers and others are grumbling over the costs. An allocation of $3.5 billion will pay for the bill’s requirements, and $500 million of that will come from a $500 annual fee on all food processors.

Judge revives N.Y. bottle law New York State’s bottle bill has survived an initial challenge from the bottled-water industry mostly intact.

The bill, passed in April, extended an existing statute to cover bottled water and required bottlers to turn over to the state 80% of the unclaimed nickel-a-bottle deposits they collect. The International Bottled Water Association and Nestlé Waters sued to overturn the law, and initially won an injunction delaying its implementation until next April.

But a federal judge overturned that injunction in mid-August, keeping most of the law in place. The only provision to remain frozen was one requiring bottles sold in New York to have a unique bar code.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo called the decision “a major victory” for the environment and the state budget, to which the unclaimed deposits will add an estimated $100 million.

BRIEFS

Aluminum beverage containers were recycled at a 54.2% rate last year, according to the Aluminum Association and other trade groups.

The Container Recycling Institutehas appointed Susan Collins as its new executive director. Collins joins CRI after 20 years of advising municipalities on municipal solid waste and recycling programs and sustainability issues.

Candy processor Just Born Inc., Bethlehem, Pa., has been given a PA 2009 Waste Watchers Award in recognition of the company’s recycling program. The award came from the Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania and other groups.

Pamela Bailey, president/CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, and Leslie Sarasin, president/CEO of the Food Marketing Institute, have been elected to the board of governors of GS1 US, the supply-chain standards organization.

Nestlé Waters North America’s Pure Life water bottling facility in Breinigsville, Pa., has received the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. This is the first beverage manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania to receive LEED Gold status.

Robert Sarlls has been named vice president, strategy and business development at nut processor John B. Sanfilippo & Son.

William Perez, former CEO of Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., has been elected to the board of Campbell Soup Co.

The Organization for Machine Automation and Control (OMAC) has elected Rick VanDyke, a senior group manager at Frito-Lay, to its board of directors.

PepsiCo’sTropicana is the first consumer brand in North America to be independently certified by the Carbon Trust. The 64-ounce paperboard Tropicana carton won a carbon-footprint certification from the Carbon Trust, a UK government-backed independent organization established to address climate change.

McCormick Distilling has partnered with Amcor PET Packaging to introduce 15% post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate (PET) to its line of liquor in plastic bottles. Scheduled to begin this fall, the rollout will initially include 50-milliliter, 1 liter and 1.75-liter bottle sizes, with plans to introduce 15% recycled content to remaining lines in 2010.