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FEATURE NEWS

Food Safety Group Responds To FDA Decision To Delay Implementing Key Provisions Of Landmark Food Safety Act
January 07, 2018




FDA Building 21 stands behind the sign at the campus's main entrance in Silver Spring, MD. Official government (FDA) photo. (Public Domain)

 

Chronicle staff

 

(NATIONAL)  --  Dr. Peter Lurie, President of the Center For Science In The Public Interest (CSPI) and a former executive at the nation's Food & Drug Administration, makes no bones about what he thinks of the FDA under the Donald Trump administration deciding to delay indefinitely enforcing four key provisions of the landmark Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

 

The FSMA is a law passed in 2011. It marked the biggest overhaul of the nation's food safety laws in 70 years.

 

"All Americans, regardless of their political affiliation, want safe food," writes Lurie in a statement released on Thursday in response to the news of the delay in enforcing key provisions of the law. "That’s why the Food Safety Modernization Act passed with broad bipartisan support.  Make no mistake: The Trump administration is today undermining that landmark legislation by indefinitely delaying enforcement of the rules that would put it into effect. The announcement is a rotten anniversary present, given that FSMA was signed into law on this very day seven long years ago."

 

Lurie noted in his statement that the FSMA was intended to cover the entire food chain, from farm to fork, and that the Trump administration’s "new guidance" would create a gap in that safety chain by exempting, at least for now, some of those who harvest, package, and hold food produced on farms. 

 

"In addition, the guidance would eliminate the written company-to-company food safety assurances required under the final FSMA rules that identify dangerous pathogens that should be addressed by downstream processors.  Undoing those aspects of the rules threatens to expose consumers to hazards like Salmonella and E. coli," wrote Lurie.

 

He adds that notably, when these same food safety rules were created, and then delayed for a finite period of time under the Obama administration, the rules were subject to public notice and comment before being published.  "During that period, industry had adequate opportunity to raise the very concerns used by FDA today to justify today’s announcement.  But under the Trump Administration, these indefinite delays are being unveiled in a surprise final guidance without public input."

 

In a news release January 4, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said that although the FDA has been working hard to implement provisions of the law, "we recognize that such a fundamental change in our food safety approach may require adjustments along the way to address issues that had not been previously anticipated."

 

He added that the agency values feedback on the rule changes and acknowledges challenges that farmers, manufacturers, and other stakeholders face as the new rules are implemented.

 

The provisions the FDA doesn't intend to enforce include aspects of the “farm” definition, requirements related to written assurances from a manufacturer’s customers, requirements for importers of food contact substances, and requirements related to certain human food by-products for use as animal food within three of FSMA's rules that relate to human and animal food safety, foreign supplier verification, and growing standards for human food.

 

"This action will help reduce the burdens on both industry and government and provide the agency the ability to consider the most effective and efficient way forward," Gottlieb said.






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