Food Safety Modernization Act Stalls in the Senate
In SSI’s August issue I reported on the Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) and how it could usher in regulations that are expected to create new business opportunities for installing security contractors across the expansive foodservice industry.
Considering that the House approved a similar bill in 2009 (H.R. 2749) with broad bipartisan support, getting S. 510 passed was viewed as a foregone conclusion. All that seemingly remained was to reconcile the two bills, then kick it up to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue where President Obama is waiting with pen in hand to make it law.
Not so fast. The bill — which would overhaul a nearly 100-year-old regulatory system — now appears destined to languish in 2010, a victim of political wrangling. It’s been quite the roller-coaster ride for the bill’s opponents and supporters, which includes systems integrators like ADT, Protection One and Siemens.
I’ll spare you the finer points but S. 510 has been pronounced dead, then revived, and flat-lined again multiple times. The latest incident came during heightened concerns about food safety after the recent Salmonella outbreak sickened more than 1,600 persons. An 11th-hour lobbying effort was waged to get the bill signed before Congress went on its scheduled October recess. Success in getting the bill approved was near, then quashed yet again. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., blocked the bill over protestations it was not properly funded.
If the bill doesn’t get passed this year, the Senate will have to scotch S. 510 and start from scratch in 2011. It’s an unfortunate circumstance for installing security dealers and systems integrators of all sizes. As I wrote in the August issue, the sweeping legislation was expected to require food facilities to develop a written “food defense plan,” among other safety measures, to safeguard food products from intentional contamination.
While the legislation wouldn’t mandate electronic security systems be installed, basic protections to meet food defense plan goals would likely include access control, video surveillance cameras and intrusion alarms.
So now what’s in store for the hobbled bill? I put in a call to William Ramsey, a member of the ASIS Int’l Agriculture & Food Security Council, and asked for his thoughts on the fate of S. 510.
“I really don’t have a feel whether or not it is going to die this year or not. I think that the bill will eventually pass, but I don’t know what the timing will be,” says Ramsey, who is director of security for McCormick & Co. Inc., a global provider of spices.
Emphasis on the roller-coaster ride. You can expect further updates here, forthwith, as they warrant.
Rodney Bosch | Managing Editor
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