"There is no question in Congress or anywhere else that food recalls have demonstrated the need to overhaul the system for inspecting plants producing food for the U.S., whether at home or abroad. Getting it done is the problem.
With the November elections near and legislative time fast vanishing, Congress is near its last chance to enact legislation. Even massive outbreaks of foodborne diseases, such as the nationwide egg recall announced this week, hasn't been enough to break the logjam so far.
The Senate could vote on legislation next month, but it and the House of Representatives need to resolve big differences on the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act then or in a lame-duck session after the election. The looming possibility: The whole issue could be pushed over to the new Congress that takes office in January.
"I've kind of got my fingers crossed," said David Plunkett, senior staff attorney for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "I would hope they could sit down and resolve it in a day or week. It's not impossible. It is going to be difficult..."