WASHINGTON, DC – Landmark food safety legislation passed today by the United States Senate avoids duplicative regulatory schemes for distilled spirits that would have been implemented by both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and by the U.S. Treasury’s Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), according to the Distilled Spirits Council.

“We commend the Senate for working effectively to avoid creating duplicative regulations for distilled spirits which would have been costly and unnecessary,” said Council Senior Vice President Mark Gorman, noting that distilled spirits products already fall under the existing structure of alcohol regulations enforced by the TTB.

S-510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, passed the Senate by a 73-25 margin and now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Gorman further stated that the entire supplier tier values the uniform federal safety standards for beverage alcohol that guarantee both product integrity and consumer confidence across the country.

“The federal role is an important component of alcohol regulation and is carefully balanced with strong state-based authority under the 21st Amendment of the Constitution,” Gorman said. “We urge the House and Senate to reach agreement on sending this important legislation to the President before Congress adjourns.”

Specifically, S-510 exempts beverage alcohol from all but eight sections. The sections applicable to beverage alcohol include:

  • Registration of food facilities – biennial registration for facility registration with FDA.
  • Mandatory recall authority – TTB retains the primary authority to ask for a voluntary recall of adulterated product. Failure to comply with TTB’s request would result in a mandatory recall by the FDA.
  • Administrative detention of food – FDA’s ability to detain food is strengthened with a “reason to believe” vs. a “credible evidence” standard for food that is “adulterated or misbranded” vs. presenting “serious adverse consequences or death” (a lower threshold for administrative detention than enacted in the 2002 Bioterrorism Act).
  • Voluntary Qualified Importer Program – offers access to the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program.
  • Whistleblower Protections – prohibits retaliation by employers against employees who have, in relation to potential or real food safety violations, provided information to officials or refused to participate in any work-related activity.
  • Prior Notice of Imported Food Shipments – FDA must be notified of any country where an article has been refused entry, expanding the existing prior notice information requirements of the Bioterrorism Act.
  • Jurisdiction; authorities – upholds the current relationship between TTB and FDA.
  • Compliance with International Agreements – nothing in this act is to be construed in a manner that is inconsistent with agreements with the WTO or other international treaties or agreements.