Frankly, I am not quite sure Congress even knows.

As you might recall from last year the House passed, H.R. 2749: Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009. Then the Senate HELP Committee passed, S. 510: FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. When it will get to the floor for a vote, then to a Conference Committee to work out the differences with the House Bill will hopefully happen soon before the politicians start thinking about the 2010 elections.

I did talk with Lisa Greim of Natural Food Merchandiser, who has done a great job of getting many views and voices on the pending legislation, I would urge you to read more than just my quotes below:

Seattle plaintiffs’ attorney Bill Marler, who represents people sickened by food, agrees that a local/national distinction makes more sense than organic/not organic. “You should not get a free pass just because you’re organic. If you want to put your product in the [national] stream of commerce, you have to play by the same rules.” He notes that the August 2006 E. coli outbreak that sickened 205 people and killed five nationwide began with spinach from a small transitional organic grower that sold to Natural Selection Foods.

Two elements of H.R. 2749—better surveillance of illness by the Centers for Disease Control, and more precise tracking—could be good news for retailers, says Seattle attorney Bill Marler, who represents people sickened by food. If food-borne illness can be caught earlier and with greater precision, “the FDA can triangulate back to the product—[for instance], Dole bagged spinach dated Aug. 15—instead of ‘recall all spinach,’” he says. The current system of voluntary recalls leaves grocers and warehouses with losses not covered by insurance, while many victims of food-borne illness never know what made them sick.

It will be interesting to see what comes out of Congress.