A long-delayed food safety bill is up for US Senate consideration and is expected to be passed within a week.

The bill was passed by both the House and the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee in 2009 before being put on the Senate's back burner. If successful in the Senate, it will promote more regular processing plant inspections and greater authority in food-recall cases.

The legislation would also:

• Attempt to prevent food-borne illnesses from reaching the population by requiring food-processing plants to upgrade the frequency and thoroughness of their safety inspections;
• Require the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department and Agriculture Department to jointly develop a national plan to improve food safety;
• Grant HHS greater authority to order recalls of suspected tainted food; and
• Improve inspections of foreign food imported into the US.