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Senate backs standard pet food labels

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  • Senate backs standard pet food labels

    Pet food labels would have to carry uniform information about ingredients under a measure approved by the U.S. Senate on Wednesday in response to recent contamination of dog and cat food.

    Now, manufacturers and states voluntarily implement various labeling standards to explain what is in pet food, supporters of the Senate effort said.

    Concerns grew after a major recall of more than 100 brands of pet food. U.S. officials say wheat gluten and rice protein imported from China and used in the foods was contaminated with melamine, a chemical used in plastics and fertilizer. Sixteen dog and cat deaths have been confirmed.

    Senators said they wanted to strengthen food safety protections in the wake of the pet food recall and other scares involving contamination of spinach and peanut butter.

    The Senate voted 94-0 in favor of a measure that would require uniform federal standards for pet food ingredients.

    It also would require creation of a registry of potentially contaminated food products to serve as an "early warning system" of problems with human or pet food, supporters said.

    Companies could be fined if they failed to report problems, said Sen. Richard Durbin (news, bio, voting record), an Illinois Democrat and author of the measure.

    "There is more work to be done to fix our food safety system, but today we have moved forward to address the growing concerns across our nation," Durbin said.

    The provisions were added to a bill being debated in the Senate that is meant to strengthen U.S. Food and Drug Administration oversight of prescription drug side effects and extend industry fees that fund product reviews.

    That bill must pass both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and be signed by the president, in order for the food safety measures to become law.
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