The federal agencies responsible for keeping the food on your table safe from contaminants including E. coli and salmonella have no authority to force product recalls.

Instead, the Food and Drug Administration and Department of Agriculture rely on the good will of slaughterhouse operators, grocery-store executives and others.

However, proposals in both chambers of Congress aim to give the government the power to force recalls. The authors of the bills have asked House and Senate leaders to speed passage in light of recent outbreaks.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat behind the Senate proposal, said he expects wide support and that several public-health bills currently under consideration could provide a vehicle for the change.

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