WASHINGTON The biggest overhaul of the U.S. food safety system in decades took a major step toward becoming law on Wednesday when House Democratic leaders folded it into a must-pass bill to fund the U.S. government.
The House passed the spending bill on Wednesday and the Senate was expected to consider it over the next few days as lawmakers push to complete their legislative session by the end of next week.
The food-safety legislation would give the government the power to order a food recall and would require foodmakers to write a plan to prevent in-plant contamination. Processing plants would be inspected more frequently. The bill covers processed foods, fruit and vegetables but not meat.
Both chambers of Congress have approved a food-safety overhaul but with some differences.
The bill was inspired by massive food recalls such as last summer's recall of half-a-billion table eggs due to salmonella. Since 2006, lettuce, peppers, peanuts and spinach have been involved in outbreaks of foodborne illness.
(Reporting by Charles Abbott; Editing by Jackie Frank)