Claiming inaction is threatening the nation’s public health, two advocacy groups have sued the Food and Drug Administration(FDA) for missing seven deadlines for implementing a new food safety law.
The Center for Food Safety and the Center for Environmental Health filed a lawsuit in a San Francisco federal court to force the FDA and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to put the new rules into effect.
The deadlines are part of the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA), which President Barack Obama signed into law in January 2011. FSMA includes a wide range of guidelines, including a foreign supplier verification program, increased inspection of records and improved certification of laboratories tasked with inspecting food products.
According to the plaintiffs, FDA officials submitted the new regulations to OMB, where they have sat awaiting action. But the FDA could forego OMB’s approval and move ahead with the rules, argue food safety advocates.
“If the Obama Administration has lost the political will to make FSMA a reality, we’re here to help them find it,” Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety, said in a prepared statement. “It’s a disgrace that a crucial, lifesaving law sits idle while the bureaucracies of FDA and OMB grind along without a hint of results. The American people shouldn’t have to wait another second for safer food policies that are already law.”
About 48 million people get sick each year from food poisoning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of this total, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die because of food-borne illnesses.
To Learn More:
FDA Shirked Duties on Food Safety, Groups Say (by Nick McCann, Courthouse News Service)
Center for Food Safety Lawsuit Targets FDA, OMB on Stalled Food Safety Act (Center for Food Safety)
Center for Food Safety v. Margaret Hamburg (U.S. District Court, Northern California) (pdf)
Obama Administration Slow to Implement Food Safety Law (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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