Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and Ben Nelson (D-NE) introduced S. 3218, the "National Uniformity for Food Act." The legislation harmonizes existing state and federal food safety laws to create a uniform system for safety standards and warning labels.

Food-safety regulation for packaged food would be made consistent nationally and be placed under FDA jurisdiction. It also would establish a procedure requiring FDA to evaluate state regulations different than its own and consider applying that state's standards nationally.

According to the Food Products Association, the legislation is a "logical extension of the approach to consumer information that currently exists for nutrition labeling, allergen labeling, meat and poultry standards, prescription drugs, pesticide residue standards and medical devises. It will put food safety in the hands of the nation's top food scientists and food safety experts."

The National Association of State Departments of Ag opposes the legislation. It believes the legislation "greatly expands federal preemption under the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act. These preemptions would seriously hamper state and local efforts to act quickly and address food safety and public health issues."

The House earlier this year passed similar legislation.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent