After more than a year of delays, the Senate on Nov. 30 passed the Food Safety Modernization Act by a vote of 73 to 25. The bill (S.510) gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) greater authority to test and recall food and beverage products that it suspects are contaminated. The legislation has achieved bipartisan support, and if it becomes law, it would represent the most sweeping overhaul of the United States’ food system in more than 100 years.

The bill still has some hurdles to pass before it becomes law, however. The House of Representatives will need to either pass the Senate bill as is or call for a conference to reconcile it with the House version of the legislation, which passed in 2009. Leading House Democrats have indicated they would consider passing the Senate version to keep the process moving.

If the bill doesn’t pass both houses in time for to reach President Obama’s desk before the end of the year, the entire process will need to start anew in 2011.

Read more of’s coverage of Food Safety Modernization Act and what it could mean for producers and consumers of natural, organic and healthy products.