FSMA: Consumers are not protected when the FDA’s rules are “stuck in review.”

On March 19, 2012, the Consumer Federation of America announced that its members voted to support a resolution urging the Obama Administration to issue four proposed food safety rules, which have been delayed for over two months. 
“On behalf of CFA’s nearly 300 members, we urge the Administration to immediately issue these important food safety proposals,” said Chris Waldrop of CFA’s Food Policy Institute.  “The longer these proposals are delayed, the longer it will take to fulfill the promise of the Food Safety Modernization Act, which is intended to better protect consumers from foodborne illness.”  Simply put, “consumers won’t be adequately protected if the FDA’s proposals are stuck in review.”  See CFA Press Release.
Being in the trenches with my food industry clients on a daily basis, I can confirm that the CFA’s position is well aligned with the industry’s current thinking.   However, I would like highlight the importance of the food industry’s comment period and the FDA’s attention to our collective voice.   As we all know, it is critical for the food industry to speak up and use comment opportunities to help shape the very rules that govern our business operations. 
To rush this process and force a potentially premature closure to the FDA’s listening period (e.g. when FDA uses the industry’s comments to further modify the proposed rules prior to issuance) invites future litigation to resolve issues of fairness, application, constitutionality, language interpretation, etc.   Although accountability is critical, I always urge people to look at all sides of any given position.
With that said, we are all waiting for the FDA to issue its long overdue food safety rules.   

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