The Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 was passed by The House Energy and Commerce Committee Wednesday. The bill includes an amendment that would exempt meat, poultry and eggs as well as the farms that produce them.

The National Pork Producers Council was successful in blocking new on-farm regulation of pork operations, which already are overseen by the USDA and state agencies.

The goal of the legislation is to expand FDA’s authority over food safety issues. The amendment to exempt farms, foods and facilities regulated exclusively by the Secretary of Agriculture under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, passed by voice vote.

The NPPC expressed guarded optimism on the legislation. “We are pleased that the Energy and Commerce Committee addressed our key concerns with the food-safety legislation,” said Don Butler, NPPC president. “They recognized that USDA has sufficient authority and the expertise to oversee livestock and poultry operations. But we still have some issues with the bill.”

What remains unclear, said NPPC, is whether the bill, for example, would allow FDA to conduct an on-farm inspection of or quarantine the livestock side of a diversified operation that has a food-safety issue with the grain side of its business.

The bill, passed unanimously, would grant FDA authority to order food recalls and increase inspections at high-risk facilities.

Read more about the bill.