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Food Safety Bill Clears House Committee

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Legislation to increase the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's funding and powers to regulate food safety was approved Wednesday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Under the bill, the agency would be given the authority to order food recalls, impose new civil penalties and make food companies adhere to food safety standards. In addition, the bill would oblige the FDA to inspect high-risk food facilities at least once a year and would require food makers to keep detailed records to enable quicker tracking of tainted foods, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Funding for the measure would come from an annual $500 registration fee paid by about 378,000 domestic and foreign food facilities. Farms that raise meat and poultry and other facilities regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture would be exempt.

A House vote on the legislation has not been scheduled. A food safety bill has been introduced in the Senate, but it's not clear when lawmakers will begin discussing it, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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