President Obama signed FSMA into law on January 4, 2011. Having attracted broad bipartisan support, the law was touted as the biggest overhaul of US food safety legislation in 70 years. However, the coalition of consumer groups that helped drive FSMA’s passage has accused the Obama administration of stalling on issuing key draft rules.
Among those groups is the Pew Health Group, which said on its website: “Despite bipartisan support, and a coalition of food safety advocates and industry representatives working for its enactment, the administration still has not issued the proposed rules needed to begin implementing this law.”
Other organizations joining the call to action included STOP Foodborne Illness, Center for Science in the Public Interest and Food and Water Watch.
Along with families of victims of foodborne illness, they sent a letter to the Obama administration on Tuesday, which states: “We are now concerned and deeply disappointed because crucial food-safety protection proposals that would give life to FSMA have been languishing in White House review for more than six months, well after they were supposed to be issued under the new law. We remain puzzled by your Administration's failure to put in place these important protections that you so strongly supported.”
The White House Office of Management and Budget, which normally has 90 days to review regulations, has not given a reason for the hold-up.
Draft regulations on establishing a foreign supplier verification program and produce safety guidance are among those that are more than six months behind schedule.
The coalition warned that without enforcement of FSMA, the FDA would not be able to implement promised prevention-based protections, putting more Americans at risk of illness and death from foodborne pathogens.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 48m Americans become ill as a result of foodborne illness each year, 125,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die.